JOHN WICK may be getting some company. Lionsgate is eyeing a female-led action project to serve as a possible spin-off for their breakout action franchise led by Keanu Reeves. Per THR, the studio won out in a bidding war for the spec script BALLERINA, which follows a young woman raised as an assassin who goes on the hunt for the trained killers that murdered her family. So, yep, that sounds like a very WICK-esque movie.
The BALLERINA script marks the first sale for screenwriter Shay Hatten, who cut his teeth as a writer’s assistant for Robert Downey Jr.’s Team Downy. Hatten’s dark comedy script MAXIMUM KING landed a spot on the Black List in 2016 and earned the young writer representation at CAA. That script fictionalized Stephen King’s experiences writing and directing his 1985 MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE. Plot details for BALLERINA are being kept under wraps for the time being.
Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk, who produced the first two JOHN WICK films and will return for the announced third chapter, will produce BALLERINA with an aim to expand the franchise. Per the report, “BALLERINA has been described as being in the vein of LA FEMME NIKITA, the 1990s female-centric assassin movie that helped launch the career of filmmaker Luc Besson, but with a more pulpy, hyper-stylized bent a la Quentin Tarantino or Matthew Vaughn.” The script went out to studios last week, and both Warner Bros. and Universal were reportedly bidding for it when Lionsgate saw it as a potential extension of the WICK franchise and won out.
This is a super smart play on the studio’s part. People love JOHN WICK, but Chad Stahelski has already said he envisions the third film as a final chapter and who knows how long Reeves will want to play the character. But people also love the world of JOHN WICK — the Continental, the coins, the High Table, all of it. It’s a fascinating piece of world-building unlike any other and it’s rife with potential for expansion.