John Wick refuses to die.
That may seem obvious after hundreds, and hundreds of hit men have tried to rub him out over the franchise’s first three films.
Emphasis on “tried.”
The franchise is as vital as Keanu Reeves’ monosyllabic star. The fourth film in the saga is expected to sail past the $70 million mark this weekend, a bigger opening than the previous “Wick” affair.
Here’s a look at previous “Wick” films’ opening weekend numbers and overall hauls, courtesy of Box Office Mojo:
- “John Wick” (2014) – Opening: $14.4 million/$43 million
- “John Wick: Chapter 2” (2017) – Opening: $39 million/$92 million
- “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” (2019) – Opening: $56 million/$171 million
- “John Wick: Chapter 4” (2023) – Opening: $70+ million/???
Why do some franchises stall, like the “Terminator” saga, while others grow stronger, more commercially viable?
In the case of the “Wick” saga, the answers are clear.
Keanu Goodwill Tour
Quick, name a salacious news story tied to the “Wick” superstar. Good luck. Now, Google all the times Reeves delighted fans, said something positive or otherwise brightened our world.
Give it a few minutes. It might take some time.
Tom Cruise’s charm offensive has helped him navigate the choppy pandemic waters, and Reeves’ notorious niceness can’t help but boost the saga’s fortunes. Plus, knowing the killing machine at the heart of the franchise is an old softie in real life makes the bone-crunching action even more satisfying.
Find Formula. Deliver Formula.
The “Wick” films take few cinematic chances. They never wade into the culture wars, refuse to embrace the woke mind virus and stick to what works best for Wick and co. Action. More action. Delirious action. And sumptuous set designs to make said action pop off the screen.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” is beautiful to behold … when you look past the stacks of dead assassins.
The saga took a page from the “Furious” and “Mission: Impossible” playbooks. Both franchises needed a few films to settle into the proper blueprint. In the case of “Wick,” that happened from the opening film.
Don’t Make Us Wait
It’s been four years since the last “Wick” installment, but that had more to do with COVID-19 than other factors. The franchise regularly churns out features – four over the last nine years. Compare that to the Bond franchise, which is far more methodical in its release pacing. The recent “Avatar: The Way of Water” hit theaters 13 years after the original.
A smart franchise strikes while the cinematic iron is hot.
Winston, Charon and More
John Wick can’t do everything by himself. He needs collaborators, rivals and threats to make his story soar. Enter Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Lance Reddick and, more recently, Bill Skarsgard.
The talented co-stars bring texture, vitality and even fear to the franchise.
The actors all play critical roles in the series, from frenemies like Caine (Donnie Yen) to long-time allies (McShane’s Winston). Some, like Halle Berry’s Sofia Al-Azwar, cry out for a franchise all her own.
Honor Among Killers
It’s the number-one reason Hollywood keeps cranking out hit men movies. Yes, they’re professional killers who lose little sleep over the people they snuff out.
They still follow strict codes of conduct. They never arbitrarily kill strangers, at least the better hit men don’t. They respect each other and the rules of their various organizations.
Yen’s character is tasked with killing John Wick in the fourth installment, but the two share a close bond and the assignment isn’t an easy one for him to take. He accepts it all the same, understanding his old friend will appreciate the reasons why.
No hard feelings among professional killers.
It’s also why we flock to mobster stories. Yes, gangsters are immoral killers willing to do anything for power. They also exhibit extreme loyalty in ways that even the kindest souls can’t always copy. That proves alluring in a sordid way for audiences.