When the directing duties of the sequel to 2012’s musical comedy hit movie Pitch Perfect was handed over to Elizabeth Banks, it looked to be a strange decision. Banks, a popular and talented actress, had never been behind the camera before, and somehow, for no particular reason whatsoever, she did not look the part of a director, the one who has to exert his/her control over almost all that goes on in making a movie. And of course, being a female, it turned out to be a big decision to have Elizabeth Banks in the director’s chair. Pitch Perfect 2 released in May 2015 and was a smash hit right from the beginning. It won the early rounds with Mad Max: Fury Road, and also left its 2012 predecessor far behind in terms of box-office numbers. To put it in perspective, Pitch Perfect 2 had a worldwide gross of $285 million on a production budget of $29 million – almost ten times the budget! Pitch Perfect had not done badly either, earning $115 million as against its production budget of $17 million. Elizabeth Banks though took the franchise to another scale, earning many plaudits along the way. And all of a sudden, Elizabeth Banks, the director, was very much in demand.
Universal Pictures has recently announced that Elizabeth Banks will be returning as producer & director for Pitch Perfect 3. Whoppie to that! It’s a recognition of the fantastic work that she did with the sequel, and considering that she plays a part role in the movie too, no one could be more deeply involved in the making of this film than her. While I do not like to bring this up too often, but the fact that the ratio of females behind the cameras is shockingly low cannot be ignored. If famous folks like Angelina Jolie and Elizabeth Banks can survive, thrive and flourish in such roles, then they become role-models for many more to pursue these jobs – that of a director, writer, cinematographer, and so on.
There’s more to Elizabeth Banks’ growing career as a director beyond Pitch Perfect 3. The Hollywood Reporter had mentioned back in June that Elizabeth Banks is in discussions with Universal on directing the next big thing in the YA genre, Red Queen. That would be a really big announcement because Red Queen has the potential to become a huge franchise. The novel written by Victoria Aveyard is the first in a trilogy. The story is based in a fantasy world where people are segregated based on the color of their blood – red and silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. Protagonist Mare Barrow was born with red blood, but she possesses a deadly secret of her own, that threatens to destroy the balance of power. It’s the kind of premise that would easily find a big set of interested audience, as long as the initial promos look appealing. Bagging the directing duties for such a movie could usher Elizabeth Banks into a bigger league.
Another recent article by The Hollywood Reporter puts Elizabeth Banks in the midst of a Charlie’s Angels reboot. Sony seems interested in bringing back the story of three attractive women working as private detectives, which had a movie adaptation in 2000 followed by a sequel in 2003. It would indeed be interesting to have a female directing such a movie because, try as you might to defend it, the previous films have looked to be vehicles for ‘male gazing’ to a large extent. Could Elizabeth Banks bring in sterner female personalities to Charlie’s Angels – kicking butts during their sleuthing operations instead of sunbathing on the beaches?
Elizabeth Banks will be seen soon as Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 but the opportunities that lie for her behind the cameras appear more exciting now. It would be nothing short of fantastic if she’s a big success story as a director, not only for her, but for all those women who will come after her. Here’s wishing Ms. Banks the very best!