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The summer’s hit feminist blockbuster Wonder Woman doesn’t seem like a right-wing moviegoer’s political fantasy. But it turns out, the celebrated was indirectly funded, in part, by two of the most infamous figures in conservative politics: the Koch brothers.
The Trump administration’s treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, originally worked for RatPac–Dune Entertainment, a business that operates as a financier for a variety of films. In 2013, Mnuchin was able to draft together a $450 million deal that had Charles Koch and David Koch—known collectively as the Koch brothers—invest in RatPac–Dune. That same year, RatPac Entertainment and Dune Entertainment partnered together for a co-financing arrangement with Warner Bros., allowing both companies to co-finance up to 75 motion pictures.
This means that a variety of RatPac–Dune films were actually being financed thanks in part to the Koch brothers’ investments, making them stakeholders in Wonder Woman, Dunkirk, and Ready Player One.
Wonder Woman alone has made $400 million in domestic box office sales, and nearly $800 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
Alongside the Koch brothers, Mnuchin also brought Bill Gates in to invest into the company for an amount “similar to the Koch brothers’,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. Gates is largely known for investing in stable enterprises like UPS, Walmart, and Coca-Cola over film financing, making his choice a particularly interesting one for the company.
There are a few reasons why the Koch brothers’ investment has remained silent. RatPac–Dune Entertainment is a private company, so their investors are not necessarily public knowledge. One source with the RatPac–Dune Entertainment financing deals also told the Reporter that the Koch brothers and Gates are more concerned with making a return on their investments than being central players to RatPac–Dune’s success.
“They’re in it to make money. They’re not in it for the recognition,” the anonymous source told the Hollywood Reporter.
In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, Koch Industries denied the brothers had any direct involvement in the films’ investment.
The Koch brothers have a long history of secretly funding right-wing political causes, making them two of the most controversial figures in American politics. The brothers played a major role in funding the Tea Party and poured thousands into anti-Obamacare campaigns. Their company, Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the U.S., also has a history of environmental pollution.
Since then, the Koch brothers have promised to spend millions to push through President Trump’s tax plan in Congress. The brothers continue to play a major role in political lobbying and super PAC financing, which previously enabled the brothers to throw nearly a billion dollars into the U.S. 2016 presidential election.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.