Ava DuVernay May Direct 'A Wrinkle In Time' & Here's Why It's Particularly Great News
Given the number of actors and filmmakers whose careers have stalled thanks to the dreaded "Oscar curse," perhaps it's a good thing that Selma director Ava DuVernay wasn't nominated for an Oscar last year. (OK, it definitely wasn't a good thing, it was an indefensible and egregious snub, but stay with me here.) As it is, even without that dumb Oscar nomination, DuVernay is currently finding herself in the middle of a bidding war as several different companies vie for her attention. That's encouraging to hear — especially when you take into account the fact that she's not just being courted to
quote-unquote "black movies," but rather high-profile YA adaptations like A Wrinkle In Time .
According to Deadline, Disney has approached DuVernay about helming their upcoming adaptation of the classic 1963 sci-fi novel by Madeleine L'Engle. In case you grew up under a rock, A Wrinkle In Time is about a young girl, Meg Murray, whose father goes missing after developing a tesseract that allows him to travel between dimensions. It's been a staple of children's literature for decades, and the fact that it hasn't been adapted yet in the midst of our culture's current YA crazy is somewhat baffling. The idea of a voice as unique as DuVernay's behind the adaptation is an exciting one.
It's especially exciting because, for a second there, it looked as though the admirable success of her Oscar-nominated film might actually have pigeonholed DuVernay into directing certain "types" of movies. The first high-profile gig she was offered post-Selma was the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Panther . It seemed as though Marvel was under the impression that only a black filmmaker could direct a movie with a black protagonist. Why not ask her to helm Captain Marvel or Inhumans, neither of which have directors attached yet? DuVernay ultimately declined their offer… and Marvel went with another black director of an Oscar-nominated movie instead, this time enlisting Creed 's Ryan Coogler.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that black directors shouldn't direct "black" movies. If the second year in a row of #OscarsSoWhite showed us anything, it's that Hollywood needs to start making more diverse movies, stat. And if it takes racially diverse directors to make racially diverse films, then so be it. What I am suggesting is that it's exciting — and encouraging — to see that DuVernay is being offered more than just a checklist of films that fit within a narrow demographic.
It's also encouraging that she's fielding multiple offers; not all minority filmmakers are so lucky. The last two women to be nominated for Best Director — Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and Sofia Coppola (Lost In Translation) — are forced to finance their own films to get them made, acting as Producer in addition to Director. DuVernay didn't produce Selma — that job was done by Oprah Winfrey alongside Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, who also produced Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave and this year's contender The Big Short — and she certainly won't have to if she signs on to direct for Disney.
The other offer that DuVernay is fielding is from Amblin Entertainment for a film called Intelligent Life, scripted by Jurassic World co-writers Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow (who also directed that dino-smash). According to Deadline's report, Intelligent Life is "a fable about a UN worker in a department designed to represent mankind if there was ever
with aliens, who falls for a mystery woman who turns out to be an alien."
It's great to see that Hollywood realizes a black woman is capable doingg more than directing movies about heroic black men. She can also tell stories about teenage girls, she can tell stories about alien lifeforms… and yes, she can tell stories about black people, as DuVernay will do in Queen Sugar , a TV show she's helping develop for OWN, starring True Blood's Rutina Wesley. (DuVernay created the show alongside Oprah, she's executive producing it, and she will direct the first two episodes.)
Whether DuVernay decides to direct A Wrinkle In Time, Intelligent Life, or to pursue her own project, it's a promising sign that Hollywood studio executives have enough faith in her abilities as a director to be offering her such an eclectic array of films. I personally can't wait to see what DuVernay has in store for us next — and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before she gets that well-deserved Oscar nomination.
Update: The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o ( 12 Years A Slave ) is in talks to join Intelligent Life . Will that casting coup make DuVernay more likely to pick this project over A Wrinkle In Time? Stay tuned…
Images: Paramount Pictures