Fresh off directing worldwide smash “Pitch Perfect 2,” for which Universal already plans a third installment, Elizabeth Banks is fast becoming a rare Hollywood commodity: an in-demand woman director. In addition to giving what may be the performance of her career, as warm-hearted Cadillac saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter, in Brian Wilson biopic “Love & Mercy,” she appears in three of the most highly anticipated properties of the year’s second half: “Magic Mike XXL,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2,” and Netflix’s series-length revival of “Wet Hot American Summer.”
Now, the actress and director is in negotiations to direct Universal’s adaptation of YA novel “Red Queen,” which features a familiar trope of the genre—a society divided into castes, in this case by blood color—and a female protagonist who exhibits powers previously believed impossible for those, like her, with red blood. Indeed, the project, which is still in development, is poised to become a woman-centered major studio release, both in front of and behind the camera. In addition to Banks’ potential involvement and the forthcoming search for a female lead, Gennifer Hutchison adapted the script from Victoria Aveyard’s novel.
The time is ripe for Banks, a talented comedienne who has too often found herself in underdeveloped roles, to exert more creative control and even take a few risks, such as starring in director Amy Berg’s passion project “Every Secret Thing.” The success of “Pitch Perfect 2,” which was by no means a sure thing, will allow Banks the freedom to pursue her particular brand of popular entertainment for a spell, including “Red Queen.” Whether polishing screenwriter Kay Cannon’s all-female a cappella group for the multiplex or embracing the beefcake of a troupe of male strippers, Banks is committed to delivering culture by and for women, and her recent success is a measure of how untapped that market still is.