Wonder Woman finally gets top billing
Park City fan sees her hero make it to the big screen
June 2, 2017
Whether or not the 11-year-old girl sitting cross-legged on the floor while watching Saturday morning cartoons owes her subsequent success to Wonder Woman may be open to debate, but according to Park City resident Jacki Zehner, the world's first female super hero has been a constant inspiration.
"From my earliest days, I loved her super powers: the Lasso of Truth, the bracelets and the invisible jet," she recalls about the 1970s animated show "Super Friends."
In the coming years, Wonder Woman went on to star in her own live action series starring Lynda Carter, while the little girl in front of the TV made her mark as a title-holding, teenage, competitive body builder.
But as her animated friends moved from TV to the big screen, Zehner began to notice that Wonder Woman was taking a back seat to Batman, Superman, Spider-Man and the Green Lantern.
Zehner, herself, had moved on to become the youngest woman and first female trader to become a partner at the prestigious financial investment management firm, Goldman Sachs. But she didn't forget her favorite superhero. In 2013, she wrote a 70-page report calling out the major film studios for leaving Wonder Woman in the wings while others grabbed the spotlight.
This week, though, she said has been as giddy as that little girl wearing a Wonder Woman cape. In late May, she attended the premiere of the newly released "Wonder Woman" film starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins and this weekend she is celebrating its wide release.
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"I am so happy. It seems kind of silly that a 52-year-old woman can be so excited, but it is more than the character, it is a sign of progress," said Zehner.
Zehner adds that the release of the film coincides with her current work as an activist and philanthropist. She is a leader in global efforts to raise money for causes related to women and children. The initiative, "Women Moving Millions," is celebrating its 10th anniversary and has surpassed its fundraising goal of $1 billion. Locally, Zehner supports the Park City Christian Center and the Sundance Institute, where she has helped to establish a fund to support women filmmakers. She said the fund, dubbed Gamechanger, has already raised over $6 million.
"So the fact that this all happened to align in the same year is very significant to me," she said.
Zehner also believes the success "Wonder Woman's" success is important for women filmmakers and women in general. So she is doing her best to fill seats on the film's opening weekend.
"I call it 'the power of the purse' or 'shopping your values,'" she said.
Thursday night, Zehner bought out an entire theater in Salt Lake City to help boost opening weekend ticket sales and she is using her considerable presence on social media to drive traffic to theaters across the country, including the Redstone 8 Cinemas in Park City.
"Opening weekend statistics for films are incredibly important they send messages back to Hollywood executives about whether a film works … It will make such a statement if opening weekend is one of the largest openings for a superhero film ever," she said.
After seeing the premiere , Zehner said she was thrilled with the way Gal Gadot portrays her childhood hero. "It is so important to know what you stand for. That is how I relate to the character. She stands for truth, she stands for justice, for doing the right thing, for fighting the fight for others. It is all about character."
Zehner said she'll no doubt be rounding up her local girlfriends and their daughters to see the film again in Park City this weekend.