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With ‘A Wrinkle In Time,’ Ava DuVernay will pass a milestone

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Director Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” took advantage of California’s expanded tax incentive program to shoot in the Los Angeles area in 2016.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

In Hollywood, there are few measures that connote a director’s power greater than budget. This week, it became clear that Ava DuVernay has passed a power-player milestone, becoming the first woman of color to direct a live-action film with a production budget over $100 million, Disney’s upcoming “A Wrinkle in Time.”

DuVernay’s adaptation of the 1964 Madeleine L’Engle novel was on a list that the California Film Commission released Tuesday of projects receiving tax incentives to shoot in the state. “A Wrinkle in Time” will bring $85 million in qualified spending to California, state officials said, and receive an incentive of $18 million, the largest since the state program expanded in 2014.

DuVernay, who directed “Selma” in 2014 and executive produced “Queen Sugar,” a series premiering on OWN Sept. 6, joins a tiny group of women live-action directors who have worked at such budget levels— Kathryn Bigelow for the 2002 movie “K-19: The Widowmaker,” and Patty Jenkins, who is directing next year’s “Wonder Woman” movie.

Among live-action directors of color, she is also in elite company, a group which includes “Star Trek Beyond” director Justin Lin, “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” director Tim Story and “Fast 8” director F. Gary Gray.

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As a woman of color helming a live-action studio tentpole movie, she will be in a category of one.

When Women and Hollywood blogger Melissa Silverstein mentioned the milestone on Twitter, DuVernay replied with a quote from Portugese poet Fernando Pessoa: “Stones in the road? I’ll save each one. Then one day I’ll build a castle.”

“A Wrinkle in Time,” based on a screenplay by “Frozen” director Jennifer Lee and starring Oprah Winfrey, is due in 2017.

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