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Pew Pew Pirouette: 'John Wick' Franchise Expands with Female-Centric 'Ballerina'

By Tori Preston | Industry | July 26, 2017 |

By Tori Preston | Industry | July 26, 2017 |

The Hollywood Reporter reports (heh!) that Lionsgate has just won a bidding war to nab the rights for a female-centric action script called Ballerina. Which would just be more trade news drivel… except that Lionsgate is eyeing it as a potential platform for a John Wick spinoff.

That’s right - we may soon be entering the era of a Wick Extended Universe. Blessed be.

We all may roll our eyes at the thought of yet another cinematic universe (“Dark Wick” anyone?), but I can kinda see it for the John Wick franchise — and not just because I’ll gladly take more sad, shooty Keanu. Hell, after the tightly contained first film came out of nowhere to wow audiences, I rolled my eyes at the thought of another tedious Hollywood sequel needlessly stretching a good concept into absurdity. And then the sequel came out… and I enjoyed it! The thing is, John Wick has its own well-designed internal logic with a certain knowing absurdity already baked it. A whole clandestine world of assassins hidden under our noses, with bulletproof three-piece suits and a strange code of honor, bartering gold coins everywhere and never getting caught by the authorities? All sense of anatomy and geography is thrown out the window in service to a good action scene — and it works because the cast and creators are fully committed and sell the shit out of it.

Is it a coincidence that this deal was announced the week that Atomic Blonde, a female-centric action film seemingly in the Wick vein, is being released? If it is, it’s a helluva good coincidence.

So, about that script. Ballerina was written by a lucky motherfucker named Shay Hatten, who is all of 23 years old. He’s a writer’s assistant for Robert Downey Jr.’s production company, and apparently he idolizes Shane Black (BIG SURPRISE). The script itself apparently focuses on a young woman who is being raised as an assassin, who goes to hunt down the OTHER assassins that murdered her family. Which, yeah, is super John Wick-y. But it also sounds sort of like a Black Widow movie, if the “training” is anything like the Red Room.

So basically Lionsgate may make a Black Widow movie before Marvel does. Figures.

Anyway, the movie will be produced by Basil Iwanyk, whose Thunder Road banner makes the John Wick films. And I will absolutely watch the shit out of it. Assuming they don’t kill any more puppies.

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Tori Preston is the managing editor of Pajiba. She tweets here. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.