New Zealand-born Niki Caro, whose new movie The Zookeeper’s Wife opens next weekend, was recently announced as the director of Disney’s forthcoming live-action femake of Mulan. Assuming all goes according to plan, she will be just the fourth woman to solo direct a live-action film with a budget of at least $100 million. Here’s the full list:

Kathryn Bigelow

Film: K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)

Budget: $100 million

How Many Films She Made Prior To Getting a $100m Budget: 4

Patty Jenkins

Film: Wonder Woman (2017)

Budget: $100m-$120m

How Many Films She Made Prior To Getting a $100m Budget: 2

Ava DuVernay

Film: A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

Budget: $103m

How Many Films She Made Prior To Getting a $100m Budget5 (plus a lot of TV)

Niki Caro

Film: Mulan (2018)

Budget: Not clear yet

How Many Films She Made Prior To Getting a $100m Budget: 6 (plus a lot of TV)

Of the honor of joining this club, Caro told The Frame, “”[It] feels really good, actually. I’m really excited to flex the filmmaking muscle at a budget of that size and movie of that scale. I want to kick that door open so hard so that legions of other female directors can race through it. And we can only do that by making these movies really successful.” Caro comes to this moment in her career after a decade of working in TV before breaking through to film with 2002’s Whale Rider which led to movies like North Country (2005) and McFarland USA (2015).

Incidentally, here are 4 male directors – the first 4 that come to mind since there are oddly so many of them – who made one tiny movie and were then handed a movie with a budget well north $100m:

Colin Trevorrow

First Film: Safety Not Guaranteed (Budget: $4.4m)

Second Film: Jurassic World (Budget: $150m )

Marc Webb

First Film: (500) Days of Summer (Budget: $7.5m)

Second Film: The Amazing Spider-Man (Budget: $230m )

Jordan Vogt-Roberts

First Film: The Kings of Summer (Budget: $1.3m )

Second Film: Kong: Skull Island (Budget: $185m)

Gareth Edwards

First Film: Monsters (Budget: $500K )

Second Film: Godzilla (Budget: $160m)

Sources: The Frame, BoxOfficeMojo


Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.


  1. I wish Michelle McClaren was on this list but she had creative differences over Wonder Woman.


    1. Same thing happened to Patty Jenkins with Thor: The Dark World, and a couple of years later she gets Wonder Woman. Maybe that means McClaren will get her big payday a couple years down the road.


  2. […] There are already signs of progress. Captain Marvel, due in 2019, will be co-directed by Anna Boden, working with her longtime collabroator Ryan Fleck (Mississippi Grind). Silver & Black, Sony’s Silver Sable and Black Cat team-up, recently hired director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball), setting her up to become the first black woman to direct a superhero movie (assuming Silver & Black gets made, which is not a given, not with Sony’s track record). Plus, outside of the superhero genre Niki Caro (Zookeeper’s Wife) and Ava DuVernay (Selma) have been… […]


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