The action genre had been on life support for quite some time, with a laundry list of forgettable, CGI-ridden schlock that felt all too disposable. Gone were the glory days kick-started by franchises like Die Hard and Rambo, fans of the genre everywhere were subjected to giant robot fights and superhero films, which aren’t always a bad thing, but feel all too interchangeable. Then, all of a sudden, completely out of nowhere in the year, a shining light appeared. An action film so good, so visceral, and so instantly iconic that it justifiably earned a reputation as not only the best new action film in years but a film that would change the action genre as we knew it forever.
That film, of course, was John Wick (2014), directed by experienced stuntmen Chad Stahelski and David Leitch and starring the legendary lead of The Matrix series, Keanu Reeves. On paper, the film’s now universally known concept of a former assassin going on a revenge-fueled rampage all because his dog was killed sounds completely absurd, but proved to be a perfect catalyst for a perfectly executed action extravaganza. Though John Wick may have started as a word-of-mouth cult classic, it quickly sprouted into a blossoming franchise, featuring two equally excellent sequels with a fourth on the way that is jam-packed with legends of the action genre like Hiroyuki Sanada (The Twilight Samurai) and Donnie Yen (Ip Man). A fifth film is also being planned, and now, an interconnected universe is also being planned, with a prequel series following the mysterious criminal haven from the films titled The Continental set to premiere next year on Peacock.
The Continental may be the first television spin-off to grace the world of John Wick, but there’s also another mysterious project that will mark the first feature film spin-off for the hit action franchises. Titled Ballerina, this new vengeful adventure will see a new protagonist follow in John Wick’s footsteps, further expanding the complex mythology of this criminal underworld and potentially further elaborating on John Wick himself’s mysterious past. Though this is very much a new story with new characters to follow, it’s been confirmed that Ballerina will see the return of quite a few familiar faces. To find out who those faces are as well as when you can expect to see the new film hit screens everywhere, read below to find out everything we know so far about Ballerina.
Editor’s Note: This article was last updated on January 2 with the latest casting news.
Is There a Trailer for Ballerina?
Ballerina is currently still in production, so there is also currently no trailer available for the film. A publicly released trailer likely won’t be released until Ballerina is done filming, but it’s possible we could see some early behind-closed-doors footage take place at upcoming conventions. As of November 5, 2022, the film is in production so it shouldn’t be long before a trailer comes out. In the meantime, why not check out Collider’s interview with John Wick director Chad Stahelski:
Will Ballerina Be Released in Theaters or on Streaming?
More than likely, Ballerina will be following in the footsteps of the earlier John Wick films and be a theatrical release. In the unlikely case that Ballerina is made a streaming release, franchise parent company Lionsgate doesn’t have an official deal with any major streaming platform, so it’s anyone’s guess where the film would premiere on streaming should it ever.
Does Ballerina Have a Release Date?
No official release date has been set for Ballerina at this time. Given that 2023 is set to be a massive year for the John Wick franchise, with both John Wick: Chapter 4 and The Continental set to premiere, it seems reasonable to assume that Ballerina will be aiming to perform its dance of death onto screens sometime in either late 2023 or early 2024.
What Is the Plot of Ballerina?
The official plot summary released thus for Ballerina doesn’t give too much to go off of, stating it follows “A young female assassin seeks revenge against the people who killed her family”. Thankfully, while promoting John Wick: Chapter 4 at CCXP 2022, Keanu Reeves shed a bit more light on the new project:
“[she is a] woman who has some very difficult circumstances and who’s looking for revenge. Whoever killed her- someone killed her father. Who could that be? And so it’s her journey for actually understanding her past. She lost her father at a young age, and she doesn’t really know what happened. Only that someone came into the house and killed her father, who had a tattoo. And as we know in John Wick, if you have a tattoo, something’s going on.”
Reeves also revealed that the film will take place in between the events of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and John Wick: Chapter 4. If the concept of ballerina assassins sounds familiar, that’s because we got a brief glimpse of them in Chapter 3, when John seeks the aid of a mysterious figure from his past known only as The Director (Anjelica Huston). As per usual in the John Wick universe, all is not as it seems. This isn’t a simple ballet academy, but a front to train skilled assassins for various criminal enterprises. The statement from Reeves also seems to indicate that there will be some sort of murder mystery angle at play, with the main character of Rooney (Ana de Armas), finding out who did this. Perhaps this has a connection to the High Table murdering her peers and Director midway through Chapter 3, but the inclusion of her father’s death raises questions as to who this killer could be.
Who Is Making Ballerina?
With main franchise director Chad Stahelski focused on Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 (not to mention the upcoming Highlander remake and Ghosts of Tsushima adaptation), directing duties will now be overseen by Len Wiseman, best known for the first two Underworld films. Screenwriter Shay Hatten, who wrote John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, initially wrote Ballerina as a standalone film, until it was reworked to be a part of the John Wick franchise. It’s a situation that’s similar to what can be seen in Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), where an original standalone script was tweaked to fit into an established IP. Academy Award Winner Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) co-wrote the reworked script alongside Hatten.
The rest of the crew is rounded out by cinematographer Romain Lacourbas (The Witcher), production designer Philip Ivey (District 9), costume designer Tina Kalivas (Australia), and casting director Olivia Scott-Webb (The Queen’s Gambit).
Who’s Starring in Ballerina?
Leading the charge as Rooney is Ana de Armas, following an impressive recent career following her breakout performance in Blade Runner 2049 (2017), her lovable pseudo-detective in Knives Out (2019), and even showed off her potential as an action star in her brief yet memorable role in No Time To Die (2021). Also joining the John Wick universe is Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace) in a yet-to-be-disclosed role. The new cast also gets bigger with The Walking Dead (2010-2022) fan favorite Norman Reedus being cast, also in a role that has not yet been revealed.
Perhaps the most exciting news for John Wick fans is the surprising number of returning stars from the main series. Confirmed to return for Ballerina are Keanu Reeves himself as modern action hero icon John Wick, Ian McShane as Continental manager Winston, Lance Reddick as faithful and professional concierge Charon, and Anjelica Huston as ballerina assassin instructor The Director. In the most recent casting news, Gabriel Byrne has been cast in an unknown role in the film.