Wonder Woman film

Wonder Woman delights audiences at women-only screening

But women at the screening say Internet trolls are behind criticism that the move is sexist

NEW YORK • One woman said she came to feel a sisterhood. Another said she was there because she had only ever watched superhero movies surrounded by guys.

Yet another came because she did not want to overhear fanboys making wisecracks about Gal Gadot's physique or, for that matter, that of any other woman on screen.

Each of these moviegoers was at the first women-only screening of Wonder Woman, starring Gadot, at the Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn on Sunday.

They had acted fast. All 176 tickets sold out less than an hour after the theatre announced the showing, following the lead of the chain's flagship in Austin, Texas.

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News of the women-only limitation set off a storm of virtual tantrums among some boys and men. Never mind that Wonder Woman could be seen at about 4,160 other theatres in the United States.

The Alamo's all-female screenings were sexist, smacked of misandry and set a dangerous precedent, they wrote on Facebook and Twitter.

Discrimination complaints were filed. What was next, some asked - male-only screenings of Spider-Man (2002) or Thor (2011)? A special screening of spooky movie It - just for people who identify as clowns?

 

The chain said the screenings "may have created confusion - we want everybody to see this film".

 

The Brooklyn theatre took a cheekier route on Twitter, posting a photo of Charlize Theron as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) that was captioned "men yelling indistinctly".

The next day on Twitter, the theatre announced a second show. That one, too, sold out fast.

All of which drew even more publicity for a film that was the most anticipated of the summer and easily broke the opening-weekend boxoffice record for a film directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins).

It also meant that women at Sunday's screening in Brooklyn found themselves sharing the Alamo's waiting area, in the sleek City Point shopping complex, with no fewer than five reporters and a television camera operator. There was no trace of anyone from the anti-all- female screening crowd.

The women seemed amped to see the movie, especially with an all- female audience. "It's nice to have that, even for just two hours," said book publicist Andrea Lam, 28.

The online fuss roundly prompted eye rolls. "I wasn't surprised at all. Are you kidding?" said Ms Jennifer Udden, 31, a literary agent.

A graduate of Mount Holyoke, a women's college, she added that she was excited about experiencing a superhero movie about a woman directed by a woman while surrounded by women. "When you exclude men from one space, they all say it's not fair," said Ms Udden. "And when women point out the structural problems of patriarchy and the lack of opportunities for women, they say, 'Grow a thicker skin'."

Sitting beside her on the waiting room's black leather banquette, Ms Tanya Matos, 54, who works in human resources, chalked up the backlash to Internet trolls. "Crybabies," she said.

Ms Stephanie Billman, who is in her 40s and is chief of staff for a non-profit organisation, said the criticism felt like the "status quo pushing back".

"It feels entirely ridiculous and I want to enjoy this more than I want to get upset," she added.

There were murmurings over at the box office. Mr Frank Icano, 26, a painter, came to see the movie with a group of friends and was aghast to learn that not only was it sold out, but it had also been restricted to women.

Reporters circled him as he vented. He was shushed by one of his friends, Ms Monica Wilkins, 21, an after-school counsellor. "It's only one time," she said. "Relax."

Then the doors opened and viewers filed into the theatre. Reporters were banned but, according to audience members, a couple of men slipped in, though no one said anything, and word circulated that at least one was someone's dad.

The moviegoers said they had found themselves tearing up and laughing knowingly at the same points, and that with a crowd composed mostly of women, it seemed as if everyone was in it together.

"It felt nice to be catered to," Ms Lam said.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Women-only screening draws online flak'. Print Edition | Subscribe