Amid a summer of duds, one woman shone. Wonder Woman is officially the biggest movie of the summer. It’s also:
- the top-grossing movie directed by a woman.
- domestically, the highest grossing installment in the DC Extended Universe that started with 2013’s Man of Steel.
- bigger than Iron Man, the movie that launched Marvel’s massive cinematic universe.
- and about to become the biggest superhero origin movie ever, when it overtakes Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man, unadjusted for inflation.
It’s not just Warner Bros. that’s benefitting from the film’s nearly $800 million run. Two unlikely stakeholders stand to profit from the progressive blockbuster.
Charles and David Koch, the right-wing billionaire brothers known for giving hundreds of millions to conservative politicians in the Obama years (paywall), are reportedly investors in one of the financing firms behind the project. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Koch brothers hold a stake worth “tens of millions of dollars” in RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which co-financed Wonder Woman with Warner Bros. (Koch Industries denied any involvement by itself or the Koch brothers in a statement to the publication.)
If the report is true, they are not the only conservatives involved with the production company:
Now-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brought the brothers in as investors as part of a $450 million deal struck in 2013—a move that was never disclosed because RatPac-Dune is a private company.
In 2013, RatPac-Dune—formed from producer-director Brett Ratner’s and James Packer’s RatPac Entertainment and Mnuchin’s Dune Entertainment, and now owned by Ratner and Access Entertainment—struck a deal with Warner Bros. to co-finance its film slate, up to 75 pictures, which included movies such as Gravity, Mad Max: Fury Road, Dunkirk, Guy Ritchie’s recent flop King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and the upcoming Justice League and Ready Player One films. Per the deal, RatPac-Dune reportedly did not have any input into the films or even a say in which projects it financed.
Mnuchin is no longer involved; he reportedly put his stake into a blind trust this year to avoid a conflict of interest in his new White House role. And his not the only person in the White House to take a financial interest in Hollywood. White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who owes part of his fortune to Seinfeld re-runs, has directed nine documentaries, most of which were political in nature, and has producer credits on 18, according to the Internet Movie Database.
Anthony Scaramucci, US president Donald Trump’s short-lived White House communications director, is a producer on HBO’s upcoming film about disgraced former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who he bizarrely chose to quote on CNN to make a point about honor, dignity, and respect. He also reportedly invested in the 2013 indie Big Words, and has a producer credit on The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete.
Then of course there’s Trump, himself, who hosted the NBC reality-TV series The Apprentice for many years, and retained a producer credit while in office.