Everyone is all hyped about Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s upcoming Sony/Marvel Studios’ Silver Sable and Black Cat films. Black woman directors finally getting a crack at directing major big budget studio films that were (and still are for the most part) the providence of white guys.
But over a decade before Gina and Ava, there was another black female director who was very making news of her own. I’m referring to Angela Robinson, who back in 2005 directed Disney’s Herbie Unloaded starring Michael Keaton and Lindsay Lohan.
The film was a reboot of the very popular and successful Herbie the Love Bug series of car race movies that Disney made in the early ’70s. And with then a reported budget of reportedly $50 million, it was by far the most expensive film (studio or indie) ever directed by a black female director. Robinson became the third black woman ever to direct a feature film produced by a major film studio after Darnell Martin with I Like It Like That for Columbia (now Sony) Pictures in 1984 and Euzhan Palcy with A Dry White Season for MGM in 1989.
The problem is no one even knew about it. There was no, as in none, media hype about Robinson directing Herbie and the black media was, as usual, asleep covering instead whoever was hot back in 2005. Whether it was Disney who for some reason was afraid to publicize what was then a pioneering event or if Robinson herself eschewed any mention about for whatever reason who knows?
And though the film did relatively OK at the box office and worldwide grossed close to $150 million, it wasn’t the box office smash that Disney was hoping it would be. Most likely since it came out just at the time when publicity started to come out about Lohan’s bad behavior on the set and her embarrassing public shenanigans which were covered 24/7 by the tabloid press, beginning her slow downside. It probably hurt the movie at the box office. Parents sure didn’t want to take their kids to see someone in a movie they were praying their children didn’t want to follow her self-destructive path.
But obviously seeing that film offers were not coming her way, Robinson for the last ten years has been extremely busy working on cable television producing or exec producing very successful shows such as The L Word, True Blood, Hung and more recently How to Get Away with Murder on ABC.
Now seemingly anxious to get back into directing feature films, Robinson now has a new feature film being released by Annapurna Pictures, Professor Marston and The Wonder Women, which is opening later this year which is most likely to play in some major film festivals such as Toronto, New York, and Chicago before it opens theatrically in late October.
And the timing for the film could not have come out at a better time considering the huge worldwide success and phenomenon that Warner Bros/DC’s Wonder Woman has become. But this film takes an entirely different track completely. It’s made more for people like me who can’t tell one bloody comic book or character from another.
Instead, the film turns its attention to the genesis of Wonder Woman by, on the surface, a mild mannered professor who had a very kinky fixation on bondage and S & M fantasies. And it seems that he was also very much involved with a complicated “menage a trios” with his wife and another woman. (That Marston guy must have been one happy camper living a lot of guys’ dreams)
And once again Wonder Women proves again what I’ve always said — just because you’re a black director means that have to be stuck in a “box” and limited to the kind of film you should make. White directors have the freedom to direct anything so why can’t black directors as well?
Check out the trailer: