Elizabeth Banks, the actress famous for her roles in films such as The Hunger Games series and Seabiscuit, is no longer content to stay in front of the cameras. She moved into the role of producer with her husband Max Handelman in 2009, the two cutting their teeth on the sci-fi film Surrogates. The pair then struck gold in 2012 with the surprise hit Pitch Perfect. Banks’ career continued to evolve from there and the actress/producer made her directorial debut this year with Pitch Perfect 2.
Like its predecessor, Pitch Perfect 2 was a box office success story. Opening against the genre hit Mad Max: Fury Road, the film was number one at the box office and made $70.3 million in its opening weekend, and over $250 million worldwide. With Pitch Perfect 3 already in development, it’s not a stretch to assume Banks will be returning to the director’s chair. However, the budding director seems to have her sights set on another upcoming franchise: Red Queen.
Elizabeth Banks is in talks to direct the film adaptation of the YA romance/fantasy novel by Victoria Aveyard, according to a report from THR. The first book in a trilogy, Red Queen was optioned in 2013 by Universal Pictures. Universal brought Breaking Bad writer Gennifer Hutchison on board to write the screenplay and Divergent producer Pouya Shahbazian will partner with production company Benderspink to produce the film.
Red Queen takes place in a fantasy world where people are segregated based on the color of their blood. Citizens with red blood are servants to those born with silver blood. Those lucky enough to have silver blood are gifted with supernatural abilities and rule the land as royalty. Protagonist Mare Barrow was born with red blood, but a mutation grants her electricity-based powers. To save her family, she must assume the role of a long lost princess while secretly plotting a revolution.
The story seems to combine ideas from popular YA dystopian properties (like Divergent and The Hunger Games) with superpowers, so it’s hard to deny (from a studio perspective) the appeal of a film combining the genres that have ruled the box office over the last few years. Universal is likely to push the adaptation hard, and having Elizabeth Banks’ name on the marketing material could boost interest.
This film would represent a substantial step up for Banks as a director, in terms of budget and special effects. If Red Queen turns out to be as successful as other YA adaptations, it could open new doors for Banks in Hollywood. She may not have much experience as a director, but after having appeared in the Hunger Games series (and having played a small role in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films), she’s more than familiar with the genres at play here. With the success of Pitch Perfect and the greater success of its sequel, Banks has also shown that she can capture her target audience while continuing to grow a franchise.
Red Queen is currently in development. We will continue to update as more information becomes available.