John Wick

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John Wick
John Wick (franchise logo).png
Official franchise logo
Created byDerek Kolstad
Original workJohn Wick (2014)
Owned bySummit Entertainment (Lionsgate)
Print publications
ComicsJohn Wick (2017)
Films and television
Film(s)
Games
Video game(s)
Audio
Soundtrack(s)John Wick
John Wick: Chapter 2
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick is an American neo-noir action-thriller media franchise created by screenwriter Derek Kolstad and owned by Summit Entertainment. Keanu Reeves plays John Wick, a retired hitman seeking vengeance for the killing of the dog given to him by his recently deceased wife and the theft of his car.

The franchise began with the release of John Wick in 2014 followed by two sequels, John Wick: Chapter 2 on February 11, 2017, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum on May 17, 2019. All three films were considered critical and commercial successes, accumulating a collective gross of more than $587 million worldwide. A fourth installment, John Wick: Chapter 4, is in pre-production and has a release date of May 27, 2022.[1][2][3] A fifth installment is also in development, and was intended be shot back-to-back with the fourth film before Lionsgate decided not to go with that plan.[4]

Background[edit]

John Wick[edit]

John Wick (born Jardani Jovonovich in Belarus) is played by Keanu Reeves.[5][6][7] Wick was an orphan taken in by the Tarasov Russian Mafia and raised as an assassin. He was so ruthless that the mafia boss Viggo Tarasov respected and feared him. At the beginning of the first film, Wick has been inactive for five years, having retired from the Tarasov Russian Mafia.

Films[edit]

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Screenwriter(s) Producer(s) Status
John Wick October 24, 2014 (2014-10-24) Chad Stahelski Derek Kolstad Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Eva Longoria and Michael Witherill Released
John Wick: Chapter 2 February 10, 2017 (2017-02-10) Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum May 17, 2019 (2019-05-17) Screenplay by: Derek Kolstad and Shay Hatten and Chris Collins & Marc Abrams
Story by: Derek Kolstad
John Wick: Chapter 4 May 27, 2022 (2022-05-27) Michael Finch TBA In development
John Wick: Chapter 5 2023 TBA
Ballerina TBA Len Wiseman Shay Hatten Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee and Chad Stahelski

John Wick (2014)[edit]

This film focuses on John Wick (Keanu Reeves) and his search for the men who broke into his home, stole his beloved vintage car, and killed his puppy. The dog, Daisy, was the final gift from his recently deceased wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan).[8]

The film's development began in 2012. In May 2013, Reeves was cast as the titular character. Principal photography began September 25, 2013 and wrapped on December 20, 2013.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)[edit]

Forced to honour a debt from his past life, John Wick is sent to assassinate a target he has no wish to kill, then faces betrayal at the hands of his sponsor.

Principal photography began on October 26, 2015. The film premiered in February 2017.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)[edit]

John Wick is on the run, being hunted with a $14 million open contract on his life for breaking a foundational rule: taking a life on Continental Hotel grounds. The victim, Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) was a member of the High Table—the organization that ordered the open contract. John should have already been executed but Continental's manager, Winston (Ian McShane), has given him a one-hour grace period before he is "excommunicado"—his membership revoked with him banned from all services and cut off from other members. John uses favours and contacts accrued in his former life to stay alive as he fights his way out of New York City.

In October 2016, Stahelski announced the development of the third film. The film began production in early 2018.

Future[edit]

John Wick: Chapter 4 (2022)[edit]

In May 2019, prior to the release of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Chad Stahelski confirmed on a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" thread that the next film would include reformed child trafficker Adam Whitten, and that there has been a discussion for another film and that he would be involved with the project should the sequel be successful.[9] Keanu Reeves stated that he would continue making sequels, as long as the films are successful.[10] Lionsgate officially announced the film during John Wick 3's opening week, with a scheduled release date of May 21, 2021.[11] However, in April 2020 during an interview with Collider, Chad Stahelski revealed that the film will most likely not make its 2021 release date, due to his commitment on The Matrix 4.[2] He also revealed during the same interview, that there's been a 100-page "scriptment" (part script/part outline) written for the film.[2] The screenplay was written by Michael Finch, as the studio had decided to move on from series creator Derek Kolstad.[12][13] Production is due to commence in June 2021 in Paris and Berlin, with additional filming locations in Japan and New York City.[14] Partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film is now scheduled for release on May 27, 2022, with Spiral taking its previous spot.[3][15]

John Wick: Chapter 5 (2023)[edit]

In August 2020, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer confirmed that a fifth film was also being developed. It was intended to be shot back-to-back with the fourth installment in early 2021, but in March 2021, Lionsgate opted to delay production and move forward with Chapter 4 alone.[16][17]

Ballerina (TBA)[edit]

In July 2017, Lionsgate announced the development of a spin-off film titled Ballerina, with the intent to expand the franchise within the same fictional world. The story—written by Shay Hatten, Writer's Assistant for Team Downey—involves a young woman who is raised to be an assassin, pursuing revenge on the hit men who killed her family. Basil Iwanyk will serve as producer under his Thunder Road Films banner, along with Erica Lee.[18] In October 2019, Len Wiseman signed onto the project as director, with Keanu Reeves and Chad Stahelski serving as a producer and executive producer, respectively. The film will follow the same ballerina previously portrayed by Unity Phelan in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.[19][20] In May 2020, Full Circle Cinema reported that the studio is looking toward Chloë Grace Moretz to assign the lead role to.[21]

Potential crossovers[edit]

Atomic Blonde

In July 2017, Leitch discussed the potential of a crossover film between Atomic Blonde and the John Wick franchise, Leitch himself having directed the former after previously co-directing the first John Wick film. The filmmaker stated that all individuals involved have discussed the possibility and that they would do it once there was a good enough story created.[22]

Nobody

In March 2021, Derek Kolstad stated that there is potential for a crossover between John Wick and Nobody, while it would be done in a small, Easter egg-reference manner.[23] Later that month, director Ilya Naishuller stated that there is potential for crossover with the John Wick franchise, noting that the same creative teams and studios made the films.[24]

Television[edit]

In June 2017, Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad were announced to be developing a television series for Lionsgate based on the characters and setting of the John Wick films, tentatively titled The Continental.[25] The series reportedly focuses on the hotel safe-haven for hit men and assassins, which features in the films. Later that year it was reported that Reeves would reprise his role.[26][27] That same month, it was announced that the series would be a prequel to the film series.[28]

In January 2018, the series was ordered and will premiere on the Starz network. Chris Collins will serve as executive writer and showrunner for the series, while David Leitch, Keanu Reeves, and Chad Stahelski will produce the series. Stahelski will also direct the pilot episode.[29] COO of Starz (now President and CEO), Jeffrey Hirsch, later confirmed that the television series will be a prequel that takes place years before the films.[30][31]

Cast and crew[edit]

Cast[edit]

The following is a list of cast members who portrayed characters, or have been announced for future films, in the John Wick film series.

List indicator(s)

This section shows characters who will appear or have appeared in more than two films in the series.

  • An empty, dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film, or that the character's official presence has not yet been confirmed.
  •  C indicates a cameo role.
  •  P indicates an appearance in onscreen photographs.
  •  S indicates an appearance through use of special effects.
Character Film
John Wick John Wick: Chapter 2 John Wick: Chapter 3
– Parabellum
John Wick: Chapter 4 John Wick: Chapter 5 Ballerina
2014 2017 2019 2022 2023 TBA
John Wick
(Jardani Jovonovich)
Keanu Reeves
Winston Ian McShane
Charon Lance Reddick
Helen Wick Bridget Moynahan Bridget MoynahanP TBA
Aurelio John Leguizamo
Jimmy Thomas Sadoski
Charlie David Patrick Kelly
The Doctor Randall Duk Kim Randall Duk Kim
The Bowery King Laurence Fishburne
Earl Tobias Segal
Santino D'Antonio Riccardo Scamarcio Riccardo ScamarcioCS
The Elder Saïd Taghmaoui
The Adjudicator Asia Kate Dillon
The Administrator Robin Lord Taylor
Tick-Tock Man Jason Mantzoukas
The Director Anjelica Huston Anjelica Huston
The Ballerina
Rooney
Unity Phelan TBA
Marcus Willem Dafoe
Viggo Tarasov Michael Nyqvist
Iosef Tarasov Alfie Allen
Ms. Perkins Adrianne Palicki
Ares Ruby Rose
Cassian Common
Abram Tarasov Peter Stormare
Julius Franco Nero
Gianna D'Antonio Claudia Gerini
Sofia Halle Berry
Zero Mark Dacascos
Berrada Jerome Flynn

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The premise for John Wick was conceived by screenwriter Derek Kolstad who began work on a treatment about a retired contract killer coming out to seek vengeance, entitled Scorn.[32] After one month of work, he had completed the first draft of the screenplay. After addressing several issues he pitched the script to various clients, garnering at least three offers.[33] When he first began to think about writing the script, Kolstad was influenced by film-noir classics, and the themes of revenge and the antihero. Kolstad explained that he tried to, "explore what would happen if the worst man in existence found salvation [... and] when the source of his salvation is ripped from him, what happens? Do the gates of Hades open?"[34]

In December 2012, Thunder Road Pictures had bought the script with discretionary funds, with Kolstad agreeing due to Thunder Road's plan to make the film straight away.[35] When Basil Iwanyk, head of Thunder Road Pictures, had first read Kolstad's original screenplay, he was immediately drawn to the main character of Wick, stating: "The tone of the script was subversive and really fun". He also admired the emotional weight and action elements of the piece. After Thunder Road had optioned the script, Kolstad spent additional months rewriting the script with them. In the original script, the character of John Wick was written with "a man in his mid-sixties" to play the role, given the title character's fabled reputation as a revered and respected assassin. However, Iwanyk believed that this was irrelevant and bent the original vision ever so slightly, stating: "Instead, we decided to look for someone who is not literally older, but who has a seasoned history in the film world".[36]

Keanu Reeves in 2014

In 2013, Keanu Reeves secured the film's male lead. After Iwanyk and Peter Lawson of Thunder Road showed him the script, he thought it to be full of potential and stated: "I love the role but you want the whole story, the whole ensemble to come to life".[37] Reeves and Kolstad worked closely together on further developing the screenplay and the story,[33][38] with the screenwriter describing: "We spent as much time developing the other characters as we did his. [Keanu] recognizes that the strength of the storyline lies in even the smallest details".[39] The title of the film was later changed from Scorn to John Wick, as according to Kolstad, "Keanu liked the name so much, that Reeves kept telling everyone that he was making a film called 'John Wick'", and the producers agreed, changing the title.

During story discussions for John Wick, Reeves contacted Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, whom he originally met on the set of The Matrix,[40] to see if they were interested in choreographing or directing the action of the piece.[41] Reeves admired Stahelski and Leitch's work performing, choreographing and coordinating, stating that, "when I got the script...I immediately thought of Chad and Dave for the action design, but I was secretly hoping they'd want to direct it".[41] He then later added: "I knew that they would love the genre and I knew that they would love John Wick. And I thought the worlds that get created – the real world and then this underworld – would be attractive to them, and it was".[41] After reading Kolstad's script, Stahelski and Leitch told Reeves they wanted to tell the story of John Wick, as they both had a desire to get involved with a project as directors. Impressed with Reeves' enthusiasm and the quality of the script, Stahelski and Leitch, told him that they wished to direct the film and later presented him with their version of the story which was based on "[...] the idea of [Wick] as an urban legend, a thriller assassin movie with a realistic vibe and an otherworldly setting". Impressed with their concept, Reeves supported the pair, and Stahelski and Leitch pitched the idea to the studio, who hired them to direct, contrary to their initial request of directing the film's second unit. In May 2013, Stahelski and Leitch came to direct the film together as a team,[42][43] though it was later ruled by the Directors Guild of America that only Stahelski would be given the director credit. Leitch was credited as a producer.[44]

Principal photography for the first film was confirmed to have begun in New York City with an original shooting schedule meant to have occurred from September 25 to December 5, 2013 with the filming process scheduled to continue in and around New York City and greater New York area.[45][46][47][48]

In February 2015, directors Stahelski and Leitch stated that a John Wick sequel had begun development, which was later titled John Wick: Chapter 2.[49][50] The same month Jon Feltheimer, CEO of Lionsgate, stated during a conference call that they see John Wick as a multiple-title action franchise.[51] Additionally, it was reported that Kolstad would return to write the screenplay.[51] In May 2015, it was confirmed that a sequel was green-lit, and Lionsgate would be selling the film at the Cannes Film Festival. Principal photography on the film began on October 26, 2015, in New York City.[52] It would later move to Rome and eventually resumed in Montreal, Canada on October 27, 2016.

In October 2016, Stahelski stated a third film was in development.[53] In June 2017, it was reported that Kolstad would return to write the screenplay for the third film.[54] In September 2017, Lionsgate announced a release date of May 17, 2019.[55] In January 2018, it was reported that Chad Stahelski was returning to direct the film and Common, Laurence Fishburne, and Ruby Rose were set to reprise their roles from the second film. Additionally, it was announced that Hiroyuki Sanada had been cast as the film's antagonist. The film began production in early 2018.[56] On May 21, 2018, it was reported that Halle Berry, Asia Kate Dillon, Anjelica Huston, Mark Dacascos and Jason Mantzoukas had joined the cast.

Inspiration for the film series[edit]

Director Chad Stahelski cited The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Point Blank (1967), Le Cercle Rouge (1970), and The Killer (1989) as influences for series.[57]

About The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Stahelski said, "Look at Clint Eastwood in [the film] – there is so much back-story unsaid there. We're big fans of leaving it to your imagination. We just give you some gold coins, and then it's, 'Where do the gold coins come from?' We'll get to that eventually. Have your imagination do some work there." He also said Point Blank influenced John Wick: "One of the biggest inspirations for the film was Point Blank. We watched it on a loop in our office, and there are a couple of homages to that [in John Wick]."[58] Park Chan-wook's The Vengeance Trilogy (2002–2005) and Lee Jeong-beom's The Man from Nowhere (2010) influenced the film due to "[their] minimalist composition and graphic nature."[59]

Alistair MacLean and Stephen King were huge influences in the creation of the story of John Wick in terms of characterization and world-building, with screenwriter Derek Kolstad stating, "MacLean could build a world, and King could surprise you by what the main character truly was capable of."[60] Outside of films, Stahelski and Leitch drew inspiration from the visual stylings of the '60s and '70s as well as cinematic influences, including Sergio Leone, Akira Kurosawa, Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, William Friedkin and Sam Peckinpah. Stahelski himself said, "All the way back to Kurosawa up to Sergio Leone. We like the spaghetti western sensibility there, some of the composition." About inspiration and emulation from the noir film genre, Stahelski added that "Noir maybe was sort of less impact for us than the other sort of westerns and Kurosawa and things like that. I think we wanted to make this hard-boiled character."[57][58][61]

Reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

Film U.S. release date Box office gross All-time ranking Budget Ref(s)
U.S. and Canada Other territories Worldwide U.S. and Canada Worldwide
John Wick October 24, 2014 $43,037,835 $45,723,826 $88,761,661 1,975 N/A $20–30 million [62][63]
John Wick: Chapter 2 February 10, 2017 $92,029,184 $79,510,703 $171,539,887 807 $40 million [64][65][63]
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum May 17, 2019 $171,015,687 $155,694,040 $326,709,727 293 429 $55–75 million [66][63][67][68]
Total $306,082,706 $280,928,569 $587,011,275 $115–145 million

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
John Wick 87% (217 reviews)[69] 68 (40 reviews)[70] B[71][72]
John Wick: Chapter 2 89% (276 reviews)[73] 75 (43 reviews)[74] A−[75][72]
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum 89% (345 reviews)[76] 73 (50 reviews)[77] A−[78][72]

Other media[edit]

Video games[edit]

Wick is an officially-licensed playable character in the heist-based video game Payday 2.[79] Wick-themed elements were added to the popular game Fortnite Battle Royale upon the launch of its ninth season, occurring a day before the third film's release.[80] A Wick-inspired character had previously been available in the game's third season.

John Wick Chronicles, a virtual reality game set in the Continental Hotel, was released on February 9, 2017. Players assassinate multiple targets inside the hotel as John Wick using a multitude of weapons.[81]

John Wick Hex, a turn-based tactical role-playing game developed by Mike Bithell and published by Lionsgate Games, was announced in May 2019 and released on October 8, 2019. The game has the player control Wick in various missions to use his array of skills to take down opponents and features the voices of Ian McShane and Lance Reddick reprising their film roles, among others.[82] The PlayStation 4 version of the game was released on May 5, 2020.[83]

Comic books[edit]

A John Wick comic book mini-series was released November 29, 2017 by Dynamite Entertainment. It was written by Greg Pak and illustrated by Giovanni Valletta (issues 1 and 2) and Matt Gaudio (issues 3–5). The five-book series chronicles a young John Wick after his release from prison and his first vendetta. It serves as a prequel to the movie franchise and introduces the Book of Rules, The Continental and other aspects familiar within the John Wick movie series.[84]

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