Women-only screenings of Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman received considerable backlash, but they also sold out incredibly fast. To get a better idea of why the Alamao Drafthouse’s special screenings were so popular, we spoke to attendees about why they were eager to see the movie in a women-only audience.
Warner Bros officially kicked off its DC Extended Universe last year with the premiere of Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice – a followup to the universe’s soft launch in the director’s Man of Steel – and continued with David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. However, after both entries failed to receive a positive critical reception, and reactions among moviegoers were decidedly mixed, expectations for the entire DCEU were placed on the shoulders of Wonder Woman. Additionally, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman was also the first superhero blockbuster with $100+ million budget directed by a woman and fronted by a female hero – Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince, reprising her role from Batman V Superman. As such, Wonder Woman was also tasked with proving female-led, female-directed superhero movies could succeed.
We now know that Wonder Woman is a resounding success, earning over $200 million in its opening weekend, and breaking the record for best opening box office of a movie directed by a woman. Further, 52 percent of the film’s opening day audience were women, making Wonder Woman the first Marvel or DC movie with a majority female audience – at least, on that particular day. Beyond these numbers, critics praised Wonder Woman before it opened in theaters, and the response from moviegoers has been largely positive as well. The film’s dynamic and multidimensional hero – as well its portrayal of the Amazons, including Hippolyta and Antiope – have raised Wonder Woman up as a triumph for women in Hollywood.
Of course, before the movie debuted to general audiences, it was announced that the theater chain Alamo Drafthouse would hold women-only screenings of Wonder Woman in the week following its official release. The annoucement from the Austin, Texas location of the chain received criticism from those who believed the screenings to be discriminatory against men. In the wake of the annoucement, one man defied the women-only specification and purchased a ticket to one of the screenings, gloating about it on social media. Additionally, Washington Post reported the city of Austin received “multiple” complaints of discrimination for the events.
Nevertheless, many defended Drafthouse’s events, including the mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, who penned a response to one particular critic of the women-only Wonder Woman screenings. Further, the women-only screening of Wonder Woman at Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse sold out in a little over two hours, prompting the theater to open more screenings of the same kind. After such positive response to the events, the Brooklyn, Northern Virginia, and Denver locations of Alamo Drafthouse announced their own women-only screenings of the DCEU entry, many of which sold out as well.
The screenings and the negative responses prompted discussions of safe spaces for women and why women-only screenings of Wonder Woman especially received criticism when the theater chain’s similar events for romantic comedies hadn’t received the same kind of attention. One aspect that may have gotten lost in the discussions of the screenings, however, was why they sold out so fast and what exactly motivated women to attend – since it wasn’t, like many of the events’ critics believed, to spite men.