Why ‘Ballerina’ Has to Be Set Before ‘John Wick 4’

The Big Picture

Keanu Reeves will be in the upcoming John Wick spin-off film Ballerina, alongside Ana de Armas, Ian McShane, Gabriel Byrne, and the late Lance Reddick. The film is set between John Wick 3 and John Wick 4 to maintain suspense about the possibility of a John Wick 5. McShane praises the writing team and director Len Wiseman for their collaboration on the script and the enjoyable experience of working with Ana de Armas.

The John Wick main line of films may have come to an end — or maybe it hasn’t — but for now, we have no more Wick ahead of us. However, chronologically speaking, we do still have some Wick behind us, as the upcoming spin-off Ballerina will feature Keanu Reeves alongside Ana de Armas, Ian McShane, Gabriel Byrne and the late Lance Reddick. Reeves’ presence in the movie is a substantial boost in legitimising the project, which will be directed by Len Wiseman, but as anyone who saw John Wick Chapter 4 knows, it had to be set beforehand given that our titular hero has met something of a definitive fate. Or has he?

McShane, while speaking with Collider’s Robert Taylor to discuss his role in American Star, touched briefly on his role in Ballerina and explained precisely why the film is set when it is. Speculation is already about that a fifth film would follow, regardless of how Chapter 4 played out, with series head honcho Chad Stahelski outright stating he wasn’t thinking about it yet, as of July last year. However, Lionsgate — the studio behind the series — did confirm that they were in “early development” for a fifth installment.

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This one is set in between John Wick 3 and John Wick 4, because Keanu is in it, too. You didn’t want to set it after John Wick 4, because then you’d have social media saying, “Oh, so he’s still alive! What’s he going to do next time? Is there a John Wick 5?!” This way, you can still keep up the pretense that there might not be a John Wick 5.

Who is Ana de Armas Playing in ‘Ballerina’?

McShane also explained that his character, Winston Scott, and Charon (the late Lance Reddick), would be “protecting” de Armas’ character, Rooney, within the grounds of The Continental Hotel in New York City, from Byrne’s villain. Additionally, having only shot the Wick films for Stahelski (and David Leitch, a co-director on the original), McShane revealed that he thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Wiseman, adding that the script had been polished beforehand to ensure there was no “wasted time” when shooting.

“This time we’re protecting Ana de Armas, and I had my great friend, Mr. Lance Reddick. God bless you, Lance — he passed away last year,” said McShane, warmly. “Lance and I bring our usual protection towards Ms. de Armas. And Len I found a delight to work for. Again, we worked out the script beforehand, so there was no wasted time.”

Who Wrote and Directed ‘Ballerina’?

McShane also praised the writing team of Michael Finch and Shay Hatten, in charge of the screenplay, for the vocabulary they brought to the table for the character of Winston. The pair were in charge of dialogue, alongside Saltburn director Emerald Fennell, who was hired by de Armas to punch up the script during shooting.

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“They tend to make me sound a bit like an English dictionary sometimes on John Wick. They’re great writers — Michael [Finch] and Shay [Hatten] on those. We go through it, I check with them, and we cut it down to whatever. Len had conferred with Chad [Stahelski], so I think there’s a continuity from the other Wick movies. So it should be very enjoyable. [Ana] was lovely to work with. I think Gabriel Byrne plays the chief villain, so there’s a good actor for you.”

Ballerina will release in theaters on on June 7, 2024.


A young female assassin seeks revenge against the people who killed her family.

Release Date June 7, 2024

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