One woman said she came to feel a sisterhood. Another said she was there because in her years as a comic book geek, she had only ever watched superhero movies surrounded by guys. Yet another came because she didn’t want to overhear fanboys cracking wise about Gal Gadot’s physique, or, for that matter, that of any other woman onscreen.
Each of these moviegoers was at the first women-only screening of “Wonder Woman,” starring Ms. Gadot, at the Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn on Sunday. They had acted fast; all 176 tickets to the matinee sold out less than an hour after the theater announced the showing, following the lead of the chain’s flagship in Austin, Tex., inviting only those who identified as a woman, with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.
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 theaters nationwide. The Alamo’s all-female screenings were exclusionary, sexist, smacked of misandry, they wrote on Facebook and Twitter, and set a dangerous precedent. Discrimination complaints were filed. What was next, some asked — male-only screenings of “Spider-Man” or “Thor”? A special screening of “It” just for people who identify as clowns?
The chain issued a statement, saying the screenings “may have created confusion — we want everybody to see this film.” The Brooklyn theater took a cheekier route on Twitter, posting a photo of Charlize Theron as Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road” captioned “men yelling indistinctly.”
The next day on Twitter, the theater announced a second show. That one, too, sold out in no time flat.
All of which drew even more publicity for a film that was already the most anticipated of the summer and easily broke the opening-weekend box office 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.Continue reading the main story
To a one, the women seemed pretty amped to see the movie, especially with an all-female audience. “It’s nice to have that, even for just two hours,” said Andrea Lam, 28, a book publicist who lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Her friend Mo Lathrop, 33, a translator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, was glad she didn’t have to be concerned “about 17-year-olds yelling about Gal Gadot’s bosoms.”
The online fuss roundly prompted eye rolls.
“I wasn’t surprised at all; are you kidding?” said Jennifer Udden, 31, a literary agent who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. A graduate of Mount Holyoke, a women’s college, Ms. Udden said she was excited about experiencing a superhero movie about a woman directed by a woman — Patty Jenkins — while surrounded by women.
“When you exclude men from one space, they all say it’s not fair,” Ms. Udden continued. “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, Tanya Matos, 54, who works in human resources and came from Staten Island, chalked the backlash up to internet trolls. “Crybabies,” she said.
Another moviegoer, Christina Ku, 30, a copywriter, said she didn’t understand the outcry because women had long been denied various rights, like voting. Her friend Samantha Howard, 29, said people becoming angry about something so innocuous made it all the more thrilling.
Stephanie Billman, who is in her 40s and is chief of staff for a nonprofit organization, said the criticism felt like the “status quo pushing back” but that she didn’t intend to give it much thought. “It feels entirely ridiculous, and I want to enjoy this more than I want to get upset,” she said.
There were murmurings over at the box office. Frank Icano, 26, a painter from Park Slope, 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.
“There are plenty of other female movies that come out, and I’m not able to see this because I have a penis,” he said. He was shushed by one of his friends, Monica Wilkins, 21, an after-school counselor from Queens. “It’s only one time,” she said. “Relax.”
Then the doors opened, and viewers filed into the theater. 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 reported that 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.
An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a moviegoer. She is Christina Ku, not Qu.