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‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ is coming out at lightning speed with $73.5 million


NEW YORK (AP) — “John Wick: Chapter 4,” the fourth installment in the Keanu Reeves killer series, debuted with a franchise-best $73.5 million at the box office, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

The Lionsgate movie, starring Reeves as the reluctant-but-not-so-reluctant killer John Wick, exceeded expectations as well as previous opening weekends in the R-rated franchise. Since first launching in 2014 with “John Wick” ($14 million opening weekend), the Chad Stahelski-directed series has grown steadily as a ticket seller with each sequel. The 2017 follow-up opened with $30.4 million, and 2019’s third chapter, “Parabellum,” debuted with $56.8 million.

But “Chapter 4,” which is two hours and 49 minutes long and cost at least $100 million to produce, is the biggest movie yet in the once-skinny action series. Critics also said it was a franchise highlight, with a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

While “John Wick” has grown bigger at the box office with each new release — an enviable and rare trajectory among Hollywood franchises — “Chapter 4” lends some finality to Reeves’ character. The actor hasn’t totally turned down continuing the series, telling interviewers to “never say never”. Either way, the franchise will continue to hum. A spin-off titled “Ballerina” starring Ana de Armas and Reeves has already been shot.

The release of “John Wick: Chapter 4,” including a surprise premiere at SXSW, was also bittersweet. Lance Reddick, who plays the Continental Hotel janitor Charon in the films, died unexpectedly at the age of 60 a week before the film’s release.

But the success of “John Wick: Chapter 4” contributes to a strong start in 2023 for Hollywood. After ticket sales recovered to around 67% of pre-pandemic levels last year, the release lineup is more stable and busier this year. Sequels have taken the lead, including “Creed III” and “Scream VI”.

But there have been some exceptions. After its disappointing $30.5 million debut last weekend, the superhero sequel “Shazam! Fury of the Gods dropped to second place with $9.7 million in its second weekend. Warner Bros. spending fell sharply, falling by 68% from launch.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.