Elizabeth Banks: Hollywood’s Hottest New Director?
Elizabeth Banks is having a huge career moment right now. Fresh off directing this spring’s box office smash Pitch Perfect 2, the star is well on her way to becoming the latest addition to an all-too-limited of group of sought-after female filmmakers in Hollywood. In fact, the actress may have already found another directorial gig in the upcoming YA adaptation, Red Queen.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Banks is already in negotiations to helm the developing movie, based on Victoria Aveyard’s novel of the same name. No official contract has been struck yet, but should a deal close, Banks would also serve as produce via her Brownstone productions banner. The project would reunite her with Universal Pictures, the same studio behind Pitch Perfect 2.
Red Queen, published earlier this year, is set in a world in which individuals are divided by blood color — red for ordinary people, silver for elites with supernatural abilities. It centers on 17-year-old girl who scrapes by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until an unusual series of events lands her in front of the Silver court. Before the king and the rest of the royalty, she discovers she has super powers of her own – ones that are usually impossible for a “red blood” like her. To hide this shocking discovery and keep her under control, the king reinvents her as a lost princess and sets her up to marry one of his sons. But the young woman soon finds herself embroiled in conflict, as she becomes part of the silver world while simultaneously aiding a group plotting a red rebellion.
Should Banks officially sign on, Red Queen could become one of the rare Hollywood blockbusters to be both directed and written by a woman. Per THR, Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad) penned the script. Jake Weiner (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) and Benderspink’s Chris Bender and JC Spink (The Hangover, We’re The Millers) will produce alongside Banks.
For Banks, the opportunity would allow to continue her the massive career momentum she has gained in recent months. Pitch Perfect 2, which she also co-starred in and produced, opened to almost $70 million at the domestic box office, giving her the second-largest opening for a female director and beating the much-hyped Mad Max: Fury Road. The acapella-themed sequel has since gone on to gross a whopping $259.7 million worldwide – making it not only a commercial success, but also a huge win for Banks (who was open about the pressures she felt as a female director of taking on the highly publicized follow-up).
With a splashy directorial debut like that, it’s no wonder Banks is already being pursued for other, bigger-scale projects like Red Queen. There’s no question that the movie, which is described as combining shades of Hunger Games, X-Men, Game of Thrones and Cinderella, would mark a major leap up for Banks directorially, with a bigger budget and wider scope than Pitch Perfect 2. Still, it could be a good match for the budding filmmaker. After all, she has experience in the world of popular YA film adaptations, having played Effie Trinket throughout The Hunger Games franchise.
If she does board the project, THR reports that Red Queen likely won’t be her next directorial project as the movie is still in development. For Pitch Perfect fans, that means that, yes, there’s still a chance she could be helming Pitch Perfect 3, a sequel which Universal recently greenlit and which Banks has already expressed interest in directing.
But Banks isn’t just taking chances behind the camera. The actress is also nailing it on screen too, having just earned rave reviews for her portrayal of Melinda Ledbetter in the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy. She’s also set to appear in three high profile projects over the rest of the year: Magic Mike XXL and Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, both premiering in July, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, due out November 20.
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