Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan says that she landed the DC gig by doing plenty of homework and putting together a sizzle reel for her pitch meeting - among other things. Yan's feature directorial debut Dead Pigs charmed critics at Sundance Film Festival this year, and a few months later we learned that the Chinese-American director was set to take on DC's female superhero team-up movie, which will mark the return of Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn.
Based on the DC Comics of the same name, Birds of Prey will also star Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane) as mafia princess-turned-vigilante Huntress, and Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Underground) as street fighter Black Canary. Rosie Perez (Rise) will play tough Gotham City police detective Renee Montoya, and Peyton Elizabeth Lee has been rumored to be in consideration for the role of Cassandra Cain, a skilled martial artist who becomes the ward of Barbara Gordon in the comics, and eventually takes up the mantle of Batgirl.
Per Deadline, Yan talked about the process of landing the Birds of Prey directing gig at the U.S.-China Entertainment Summit. "I did my homework," she explained, when asked how she beat other directors to the coveted job, adding, "I immediately loved the script and it felt like something I could really do, and it felt very much like my own voice." Yan said that the script has a lot of "dark humor" and "themes of female empowerment," which allowed her to go into the pitch meeting with Warner Bros., "not with confidence, but at least a sense that I belonged in the room, that somehow magically in terms of timing and luck that this opportunity was open to me and I was definitely going to make the best of it."
As for the pitch meeting itself, Yan says that she came prepared:
"I put together a pitch deck and also assembled a sizzle reel. But I would say it wasn’t like a lot of other sizzle reels which reference other films that remotely feel like your film. I find those to be rather pointless. But I created my own version that thematically and tonally conveyed what you would feel (in my movie)."
Robbie, who is also working on Birds of Prey as a producer, has also discussed the choice of Yan as director, explaining in a press conference earlier this year that:
"Half the pitch was just seeing her film. You could just see that that’s someone who’s a very capable filmmaker... You can’t pull off a film in China for as little money as she had, and make it look so incredible, and still care about the characters more than anything."
The success of Wonder Woman proved that there's a keen appetite for female-led superhero movies among audiences, and Robbie's Harley Quinn was one of the most widely praised elements of David Ayer's divisive supervillain team-up movie Suicide Squad. It's always exciting to see what a relatively new director can bring to the table, so we're definitely counting the days until Birds of Prey arrives in theaters.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Green Lantern Corps. (2020) release date: Jul 24, 2020
- Birds of Prey (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020