The hits keep coming for Elizabeth Banks: she’ll star as a female war photographer shot down and stranded on an island in the South Pacific during World War II in “Rita Hayworth with a Hand Grenade.” The film, directed by former art director and set designer Sloane U’Ren (“Being John Malkovich”) from a script by Antony Neely (with whom U’Ren collaborated on her directorial debut, “Dimensions”), begins shooting next spring.
“Rita Hayworth with a Hand Grenade” finds Banks’ character deserted except for a lone Japanese soldier, with whom she must ally in order to survive despite being on opposite sides of the conflict. Frequent Coen brothers’ collaborator Robert Graf will produce.
The news caps off a brilliant year for Banks. After directing the second installment of the ‘Pitch Perfect’ franchise to $285 million in worldwide grosses this spring (from a $29 million budget), she’s set to return behind the camera for ‘Pitch Perfect 3,’ scheduled for theatrical release August 4, 2017, and is also attached to direct the YA adaptation “Red Queen” and Sony’s “Charlie’s Angels,” both currently in development.
As critic David Thomson wrote for TOH! this spring, Banks’ performance as Cadillac saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter in Brian Wilson biopic “Love & Mercy” is a “thing of wonder,” and she has a shot at an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress as a result. Also appearing in three of the year’s most highly anticipated releases—”Magic Mike XXL,” Netflix’s “Wet Hot American Summer” revival, and next month’s conclusion to the blockbuster “Hunger Games” franchise—means that Banks is, after a comic journeywoman’s career, is bankable on both sides of the camera. (It also allows her to pursue passion projects like this spring’s tepidly received “Every Secret Thing.”)
After a banner year in 2015, it appears Banks is poised to extend her hot streak.