Ballerina: Everything We Know So Far About The John Wick Spin-Off Starring Ana De Armas

Who could've predicted a humble B-movie about a retired assassin seeking revenge for the death of his puppy would birth one of the hottest franchises in Hollywood?

Over four films and many, many creative kills (though it's difficult to top "death by library book"), the "John Wick" series has given us some of the best onscreen hand-to-hand combat and world-building in recent memory. The man they call Baba Yaga was most recently seen in "John Wick: Chapter 4," a sequel that delivered on its promise to wear its Samurai movie influences on its sleeve. Meanwhile, the Wick-verse is expanding to the small screen with "The Continental," a limited streaming series that follows the titular hotel's crafty owner Winston as a younger fellow living in the 1970s. And that's not the only off-shoot on the docket.

Also in the mix is "Ballerina," a spin-off film inspired by the moment in "John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum" where John (Keanu Reeves) spots a ballerina/assassin in training (real-life New York City Ballet dancer Unity Phelan) during his meeting with the Director of the Ruska Roma crime syndicate (Angelica Huston). So far as pitches go, an action movie about a vengeful killer dancer certainly sounds like something worth sitting up and taking notice of, all ties to the "John Wick" universe aside. Toss in Ana de Armas, who's fresh off her scene-stealing turn as untested field agent Paloma in "No Time to Die," and you might just have a winning formula.

When and where to watch Ballerina

"John Wick: Chapter 4" finally arrived on March 24, 2023, having been delayed nearly two years from its originally-announced premiere date in 2021 by the pandemic. Lionsgate had initially wanted to shoot the fourth and fifth mainline "John Wick" movies back-to-back, though that obviously didn't end up happening and the fate of "John Wick 5" remains somewhat up in the air for the time being ... which is by no means meant to suggest it's dead in the water, mind you.

Naturally, Lionsgate has elected to give "Ballerina" a little extra space away from the latest "John Wick" sequel, rather than releasing them in close proximity and risking audiences burning out on visits to the Wick-verse. The film is now officially scheduled to open in theaters on June 7, 2024, where it will square off with Columbia Pictures' new "Karate Kid" movie and "The Watchers," the latter of which marks the feature film directing debut for M. Night Shyamalan's daughter, Ishana Night Shyamalan.

What Ballerina will be about

"Ballerina" is described as an action-thriller that follows the titular dancer-assassin as she sets out to take revenge against the killer-for-hire who murdered her family. But while it might read as a fairly generic setup for a film about a female assassin, the hope is that "Ballerina" will boast a caliber of world-building and action equal (or nearly equal) to that of the central "John Wick" movies. 

Naturally, the "Ballerina" spin-off won't be hurting for cameos from familiar "John Wick" actors and locations, though (with a little luck) not to the degree that it distracts from the title character's story. After all, part of what makes the first "John Wick" movie so great is that it keeps its focus on John and his personal journey, using its world-building to service his arc and not vice versa. That's easier said than done when it comes to these types of shared universe films, so fingers crossed, "Ballerina" will prove up to the task.

What we know about the Ballerina cast and crew

Len Wiseman ("Underworld," "Live Free or Die Hard") is directing "Ballerina," drawing from a script by Shay Hatten ("John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum," "Army of the Dead," "Army of Thieves") and featuring punch-ups by "Killing Eve" and "Promising Young Woman" scribe Emerald Fennell. The film's producers include Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee, along with "John Wick" series director Chad Stahelski.

Among those joining Ana de Armas (as the film's lead) in the "Ballerina" cast are Keanu Reeves, Anjelica Huston, Ian McShane, and Lance Reddick in their respective "John Wick" movie roles, along with Catalina Sandino Moreno and Daryl Dixon himself, aka "The Walking Dead" alum Norman Reedus. It was de Armas who spearheaded Oscar-winner Fennell's involvement with the film, having stated, "It was really important for me to hire a female writer, because to that point when I got involved in the project, it was only the director, Len Wiseman, and another guy. And I was like, 'That's not going to work.'" Could Fennell also prove to be the creative who elevates "Ballerina" into something special? She certainly knows how to craft a compelling female assassin, there's no denying that.