“John Wick: Chapter 4” knocked down the box office competition, collecting a remarkable $73.5 million in its opening weekend.
Boosted by positive reviews and enthusiastic word-of-mouth, the fourth installment in Lionsgate’s action series, led by Keanu Reeves as a legendary assassin, landed the best start of the franchise. It’s one of the rare original properties to keep growing and improving upon the last, in terms of ticket sales. The original “John Wick” opened to a modest $14 million in 2014, its sequel “John Wick: Chapter 2” took in $30.4 million to start in 2017 and the third film “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” previously marked a series-high with $56.8 million in 2019
At the international box office, “John Wick: Chapter 4” took in $64 million — debuting at No. 1 in each of the 71 markets where it opened — bringing its global tally to $137.5 million. It cost more than $100 million to produce, giving it the highest price tag in the series. But ticket sales are already proving the extra coinage was worth it.
“This is a superb opening,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Each of the ‘John Wick’ sequels has shown big growth. It’s outstanding.”
Even at two hours and 49 minutes, audiences were high on the R-rated “John Wick: Chapter 4,” which earned a coveted “A” CinemaScore. The film’s opening weekend audience was 69% male, while 70% were over the age of 25.
According to Lionsgate, only nine franchises in the past 40 years have managed to set opening weekend records with their fourth outing. Of those nine properties, only five have seen each installment improve upon its predecessor in terms of final box office tallies. In the case of “John Wick,” the first movie tapped out with $86.1 million but became a sleeper hit on home entertainment, while the sequel ended its run with $174.3 million. “Parabellum,” which is currently the highest grossing entry, left the big screen with $328.3 million globally.
“The ‘John Wick’ brand is an anomaly,” says Joe Drake, Lionsgate’s motion picture group president. “The results are speaking for themselves. We expect a big multiple.”
Chad Stahelski directed the latest “John Wick,” which follows the titular hitman as he continues his fight against the powerful organization known as the High Table. Lionsgate has been coy about a fifth “John Wick” adventure, but nothing has been confirmed. However, Reeves and other cast members are returning for “Ballerina,” a spinoff story starring Ana de Armas.
“It’s more than tempting,” Drake says of returning to the “John Wick” universe. “I’m not going to give up hope there can’t be a ‘Wick 5.’”
Except for “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” it’s been a standout March at the box office, as new entries of “Scream” and “Creed” also established opening weekend benchmarks in their respective series.
“What a difference a year makes,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior Comscore analyst. “March of 2023 is benefitting from a spectacular lineup of films that has made this one of the most notable [months of March] on record.”
“Shazam 2” slid to second place with $9.7 million from 4,071 venues as ticket sales cratered by 69% in its second weekend. It’s another dismal turnout for the quirky superhero adventure, starring Zachary Levi, which cost Warner Bros. and DC $110 million to produce and another $100 million to promote. So far, “Fury of the Gods” has earned $46 million in what’s shaping up to be one of the worst turnouts for a modern superhero movie.
It’s been a rough period for comic book adaptations. Disney’s latest Marvel sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” has crumbled in the weeks following its huge $106 million debut. Already, it’s running out of steam with $209 million in North America, which is above the original “Ant-Man” ($180 million) but behind the 2018 sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp” ($216 million). With $465 million globally, it’s not even close to matching the totals of the first two movies — which earned $519 million and $622 million, respectively.
“Superheroes have shown uncharacteristic weakness, but we’ve been spoiled,” Gross says. “We just had two sub-par entries.”
In third place, “Scream VI” collected $8.4 million from 3,355 cinemas in its third weekend of release. After three weeks on the big screen, Paramount’s slasher sequel has generated a solid $89.8 million in North America and $49.4 million internationally.
“Creed III” landed at No. 4 with $8.36 million from 3,207 locations in its fourth weekend of release. The sports drama, directed by Michael B. Jordan who also stars in the film with Jonathan Majors, has grossed $140.8 million to date in North America. Overseas, where Warner Bros. is rolling out “Creed III,” ticket sales have reached $105 million for a global tally of $245.8 million.
Sony’s prehistoric sci-fi thriller “65” rounded out the top five with $3.2 million from 2,786 cinemas in its third frame. The $45 million-budgeted film, starring Adam Driver as a pilot who crash-lands on an unrecognizable version of Earth, has eked its way to $27.8 million so far.