TORONTO – Elizabeth Banks struck a successful chord with her smash directorial debut in Pitch Perfect 2, but the actress sees the film industry as being out of tune in the lack of quality onscreen roles for women.
She starred in and produced the original 2012 sleeper hit about all-girl a capella group the Barden Bellas, featuring Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick and comic actress Rebel Wilson.
Banks assumed directorial duties for Pitch Perfect 2, which was No. 1 at the box office in its debut weekend, raking in an estimated $70.3 million — $5 million more than the original made in its entire domestic run.
Banks has previously spoken out about actively pursuing behind-the-scenes roles in films because she felt “underused.” It’s a sentiment she said still holds true when it comes to acting.
“I’m still a little unimpressed by the offering for actresses,” Banks said in a phone interview from Hollywood.
“I just came from being a juror at the Venice Film Festival, and I think out of all the movies that we saw there — I saw 23 movies — and I think there were only three that had female leads.
“I love what I do and I love my job, and so finding ways to do it and to exist in this business and to tell stories, that’s what became really important to me.”
According to published reports, Banks is said to be returning to the director’s chair for another female-led project: a big-screen reboot of Charlie’s Angels. A publicist said Banks wasn’t able to comment.
WATCH: Trailer for Pitch Perfect 2
The actress said she hasn’t ruled out helming the third instalment of Pitch Perfect, which is slated for a July 2017 release. Banks and her husband, Max Handelman, will return as producers for the sequel, and co-stars Kendrick and Wilson are also on board.
In the meantime, Pitch Perfect 2 is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and for digital download. Bonus extras include behind-the-scenes featurette “The Bellas are Back,” extended musical performances and deleted, extended and alternate scenes.
A gag reel features some of the hijinks that didn’t make the cut, including those by Banks herself in her onscreen portrayal of Gail, the snarky a capella competition commentator.
“I really wanted to have every day a sense of play on the set, and I really wanted everybody to feel open, and as long as they were in character that they could contribute,” said Banks.
“The movie is so much about a group, about a team. And I thought it was really important to capture the dynamics of our real group of people.”
Banks said the camp sequence featured in the film was the first one shot due in part to location availability. She said it also served as a great way to jump-start the team-building process among the cast, which included Pitch Perfect newcomer and Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit).
“I loved seeing everybody together, and there was a lot of testing of everyone. It was all about fearlessness,” said Banks. “I had people who aren’t great swimmers, people who had fears of heights.
“What you see in the film really were the dynamics on the days that we were shooting those sequences, and it was really fun to see everybody support each other and be there for each other.”
—With files from The Associated Press.