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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.

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

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