Variety finally managed to give us a semblance of Barbenheimer, via this year’s Actors on Actors feature. Margot Robbie and Cillian Murphy talk everything Barbie and Oppenheimer, and learning more about each other’s modus operandi. Robbie mentions a very amusing incident about Chuck Roven, one of Oppenheimer’s producer, who has worked with her previously. He urged Margot, who is Barbie’s producer to move the date of her release. Robbie instead insisted that Roven move his date, if they’re “scared of “. He then said that it will only be good for Robbie if she moved, but Robbie put her foot down. And as a result of that, the summer of 2023 breathed a second wind into Hollywood.
Women in male-dominated professions are always expected to give way to others, for their own good. Hollywood also does this to its women, especially those that work behind the camera. Women in the creative department are already in short supply, but female producers have now become a force to be reckoned with. They have amassed a personal worth amounting to hundreds of millions, and also plenty of reputed award nominations and wins in the bag. But despite adding to Hollywood’s glory, they themselves go under-appreciated.
It is important to highlight the work of female producers, especially when misogyny exists in 2023. Margot Robbie isn’t a big name amongst Hollywood’s producers, but she is Barbie’s producer. Barbie is a big IP project anyway, and yet Robbie was asked to shift her release dates. This happened despite the fact that Robbie was also the lead actress, and her acting prowess needs no further introduction. Had a man produced Barbie, it might not have faced the question. Robbie’s filmography as a producer is phenomenal, starting out with I, Tonya, and also includes titles like Promising Young Woman, and Maid. So, Robbie already has Oscar and Emmy nominations – and a win – as a producer. People who do question her talent as a producer should definitely think twice.
Female producers in Hollywood are behind titles nobody would associate a woman to. They are a reason why the male gaze has been given its due justice in cinema. Successful female producers have a stunning career as one, like Megan Ellison. Her company, Annapurna Pictures, is behind some of the most critically acclaimed films in Hollywood. Films like American Hustle, Zero Dark Thirty, Her, and Joy are all Annapurna co-productions. Another very important name is Sofia Coppola, who has produced all of her feature films. This is a reason why films like Marie Antoinette and Lost in Translation have such well-written and strong female characters. Her latest, Priscilla, is also testament to her dedication of championing female portrayal. Priscilla Presley herself is an executive producer for the film.
We owe the existence of a lot of quality films to these women. Grey’s Anatomy wouldn’t have graced our TV screens had it not been for Shondaland. Shonda Rhimes is also behind Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, both headlining with female African-American characters. Rhimes is a name that even the young know of, given her success with Netflix’s Bridgerton. The show challenged all norms that existed within the realm of period drama. Inter-racial relationships seem to be the star of her show in its existing seasons, which already has viewers in a chokehold. Even the Queen Charlotte spinoff has an equally rave response – not many spinoffs are as popular as the titles the stem from.
Producers like Rhimes make it a point to have women in major characters with a commanding presence, if not as protagonists. Movies helmed by women creatively and executively have given the world the female gaze – how women look at and perceive the world. We have a proper female perspective and thought, that is unlike that of male-led titles. When there is a woman who is the boss, she sees to it that the female portrayal is getting due diligence. Most female-led films also do not see that much viewership from the men. These films are simply deemed ‘not interesting’, and are also subject to unnecessary scrutiny. Barbie, for example has had an inevitable and overwhelming female viewership, but also saw a good number of men in theatres. Of them, there is still a section of dudes that finds Barbie to be “anti-man”, and an extremely feminist movie. This is despite the fact that Gerwig had the Kens rule Barbieland temporarily.
The world gets to hear stories and experience of women from these producers. A comparison of these works against those made by male producers are in stark difference. Female producers are no less competent than their male counterparts, given their stellar work and money. They also distance themselves from public attention, like all producers. But when someone like Roven pips up expecting a female producer to move their dates, they have to do a little talking.