Pitch Perfect, which told the story of college student Beca’s foray into the collegiate a capella competition scene, was a smash hit in 2012, with both critical acclaim and a nice box office return ($115 million worldwide on a $17 million budget). The sequel, which hit theaters in May, 2015, proved that the peppy sing-song drama of the a capella group world – first re-popularized by Fox’s Glee on the small screen in 2009 – had potential for franchise longevity (pulling in $287 million in global ticket sales on a mere $29 million budget).

Needless to say, the Pitch Perfect franchise has been nothing short of an aca-awesome investment for Universal Pictures – and the success of its first two installments earned the series a third film too. Unfortunately, the upcoming Pitch Perfect 3 will need to find a new helmsman, now that Elizabeth Banks has decided to step down as director.

Variety is reporting that Banks, who made her feature film directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2 in 2015, has vacated the director’s chair for Pitch Perfect 3 due to a busy schedule – although no one project in particular has drawn her away from the third installment of the popular a capella comedy franchise, it would appear. Banks, who also plays Gail – a singing competition co-commentator alongside John Michael Higgins’ John – in the Pitch Perfect series, will remain attached to the threequel as a producer. There’s no word yet whether or not she will play Gail again, though.

Director Elizabeth Banks shooting Pitch Perfect 2 Pitch Perfect 3 Loses Elizabeth Banks as Director

Elizabeth Banks directing a scene for Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect will feature the return of actresses Anna Kendrick (as the plucky Beca), Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy), Brittany Snow (Chloe), and Hailee Steinfeld (as Emily) to their original roles. The film was recently pushed back to a December 22, 2017 release date, from its original July 21 slot that year.

Plot details for Pitch Perfect 3 are currently scarce, but in Universal’s announcement of the date switcheroo this week, the tagline “Get ready to have a Merry Pitchmas” was teased, leading to speculation that the film might be centered around a holiday theme this time (which would be just jolly, considering a lot of holiday numbers are naturally well-suited to a capella vocal delivery).

Rebel Wilson, for one, pitched her (solid) idea for the third installment last year, saying, she’d want it be a story where “all the Bellas are together becoming a legit singing group out of college.” Brittany Snow, too, said she hoped a third chapter would “see Chloe take the advice of letting go of her control issues.” Meanwhile, screenwriter Kay Cannon, who penned the scripts for all three Pitch Perfect movies, said that if she had her druthers, she’d find a way to incorporate Tracy Morgan into the story somehow. But we’ll have to wait and see how all of those ideas actually come into play.

power rangers rita repulsa elizabeth banks Pitch Perfect 3 Loses Elizabeth Banks as Director

Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa

As for who could take Elizabeth Banks’ place as director on Pitch Perfect 3? Jason Moore, who helmed the first installment, might seem like a good fit to circle back to the series, but he is currently directing the Broadway show Fully Committed, and the show was just extended to run through July 31. Perhaps Anna Kendrick could follow in Elizabeth Banks’ footsteps and make her leap into directing through the Pitch Perfect vehicle? After all, she has proven herself to be a multifaceted talent (in addition to stage work, singing music, and screen acting, she’s also got a book coming out on November 15).

Among Banks’ other current directorial projects are her first TV directing gig, ABC’s The Greater Good, a single-lens comedy series, a reboot of Charlie’s Angels, and the adaptation of Victoria Aveyard’s hit YA fantasy novel Red Queen, for Universal Pictures. She’ll also appear as Rita Repulsa in Lionsgate’s upcoming Power Rangers reboot, which hits theaters in March of 2017.

Pitch Perfect 3 will hit theaters on December 22nd, 2017.

Source: Variety

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