When it was announced that the John Wick universe was getting expanded with movies and TV series, one question fans often asked was who we could expect to see in future installments of the hitmen-world franchise. Considering the cast of characters we’ve met in the Keanu Reeves-led trilogy, it seemed like a safe bet to think that Ian McShane (American Gods) would eventually reprise his role as the Continental Hotel manager Winston. Well, now it is official: McShane is coming back for Ballerina.
The announcement was made today as production of the spin-off feature moves forward with principal photography. Led by Ana de Armas (No Time to Die), the spin-off movie will center around a deadly woman who sets out to exact revenge after her family is killed by assassins. It’s pretty easy to figure out that this woman’s journey will lead her to the Continental Hotel – in the franchise, the location is one of the few places in which the world’s deadliest killers can settle down and rest, because there is a strict no-killing, no-weapons rule that takes effect inside its walls.
In an official statement, franchise producer Basil Iwanyk celebrated McShane being on board and teased that Winston’s role in Ballerina might be bigger than it normally is in other movies of the franchise:
“We’re thrilled to have Ian McShane joining us for a pivotal role in Ballerina. He’s been such an integral part of the franchise since the original ‘John Wick.’ It’s been fun to have him on this journey as the Wick universe expands.”
Winston is a rare figure in the John Wick movies: a laid-back individual who inhabits a place which is virtually the only chaos-free place in the franchise. Of course, this doesn’t stop trouble from reaching his domain, but the character rarely loses his cool. Aside from Ballerina, we can also expect to see McShane once again in John Wick: Chapter 4, the highly anticipated sequel which premieres in theaters on March 23.
Ballerina is being directed by Len Wiseman, who is mostly known for directing the supernatural action movies Underworld and Underworld: Evolution. An action sequence veteran, Wiseman has been at the helm of other notable action titles such as Live Free or Die Hard, and the Total Recall remake. The director has frequently worked with an aesthetic that matches the neo-noir tone of the John Wick movies. The screenplay is by Shay Hatten, who previously penned John Wick: Parabellum and Army of the Dead.
The John Wick universe first came to life in 2014. The movie quickly became a surprise hit due to two major factors: the title character’s love for his dog and the gun-fu sequences that the franchise hugely helped popularize. Over its sequels, the movie expanded its premise of an international order of top-tier assassins, and they mostly boil down to Reeves having to escape countless killers who are out for his blood. So far, the film series has grossed almost $600 million worldwide, against individual budgets that add up to $145 million.
Ballerina has yet to receive a release date.