John Wick

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John Wick
John Wick (franchise logo).png
Created byDerek Kolstad
Original workJohn Wick (2014)
OwnerSummit Entertainment
Films and television
Television seriesThe Continental (TBA)
Video game(s)
Soundtrack(s)John Wick: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

John Wick is an American media franchise which consists of action thriller films created by Derek Kolstad and directed by Chad Stahelski. The first film also included David Leitch as an uncredited co-director. Keanu Reeves stars as the eponymous character, a retired but deadly hitman seeking vengeance.

The series began in 2014 with the release of John Wick. It was followed by the sequel John Wick: Chapter 2, which was released in 2017. The two films were successful both critically and commercially. The first film grossed $88.8 million worldwide and holds an 87% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes,[1][2] while the second has a rating of 89% and has grossed $171.2 million worldwide.[3][4]

A third film, titled John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is in production and is set to be released on May 17, 2019. The franchise will continue with additional films in development, as well as a TV show titled The Continental greenlit by Starz network.[5][6]


John Wick (2014)[edit]

When a gangster’s son steals his car and kills his dog, ex-hit man John Wick takes on his entire mob to get his revenge.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)[edit]

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

Upcoming films[edit]

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

In October 2016, Stahelski stated that a third film is in development.[7] In June 2017, it was reported that Kolstad will return to write the screenplay for the third film[8] In September 2017, Lionsgate announced a release date of May 17, 2019.[9] In January 2018, it was reported that Chad Stahelski was returning to direct the film and that 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.[10] On May 21, 2018, it was announced that Halle Berry, Asia Kate Dillon, Anjelica Huston, Mark Dacascos and Jason Mantzoukas have joined the cast.

John Wick is on the run as he is being hunted for a global $14 million open contract on his life, and for breaking a central rule: taking a life on Continental Hotel grounds. The victim was a member of the High Table who ordered the open contract. John should have already been executed, except the Continental’s manager, Winston, has given him a one-hour grace period before he’s “excommunicado” – membership revoked, banned from all services and cut off from other members. John uses the service industry to stay alive as he fights and kills his way out of New York City.[citation needed]

Ballerina (TBA)[edit]

In July 2017, Lionsgate purchased a script tentatively titled Ballerina in the hopes of retooling and incorporating it into the John Wick film series as a spin-off, with the intention of expanding the franchise. The story reportedly involves a child assassin, in the fictional world created for the John Wick films.[11]

Potential crossover movie[edit]

In July 2017, David Leitch discussed the potential of a crossover movie featuring the franchise's titular assassin, and Atomic Blonde. Leitch directed the latter, after previously co-directing John Wick. The filmmaker stated that all individuals involved have discussed the possibility, and that they would do it once there was a good enough story worked out.[12]


In June 2017, it was announced Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad were both creating a television series for Lionsgate based on the characters and setting of the John Wick films, tentatively titled The Continental.[13] The series reportedly focuses on the hotel safe-haven for hitmen and assassins, which features in the films. Later that year it was reported that Reeves would reprise his role as John Wick for the TV show.[14][15]

In January 2018, the series was ordered to air on Starz network. Chris Collins will serve as 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.[16]


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.[17] After one month of work, he had completed the first draft of the screenplay and once he had addressed several issues he pitched the script to various clients, garnering at least three offers.[18] When he first started thinking about writing the script, Kolstad was influenced by film-noir classics and the themes of revenge and the antihero and the occurrences of what may play out if "The worst man in existence found salvation […] When the source of his salvation is ripped from him […] Do the gates of Hades open?"[19]

On December 3, 2012, it was announced that 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.[20] 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 theme of the piece. After Thunder Road had optioned the script, Kolstad spent additional months refurbishing 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 was of the belief 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."[21]

On May 7, 2013, it was announced that Keanu Reeves began negotiations to star in the piece in April, and was later confirmed as the film's male lead, after Iwanyk and Peter Lawson of Thunder Road showed him the script, which he thought to be full of potential and further stated, "I love the role, but you want the whole story, the whole ensemble to come to life."[22] Reeves and Kolstad had worked closely together on further developing the screenplay and the story,[18][23] with the screenwriter stating, "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."[24] 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, who he originally met on the set of The Matrix,[25] to see if they were interested in choreographing or directing the action of the piece.[26] 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."[26] he then 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."[26] 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. On May 7, 2013, it was announced that Stahelski and Leitch were to direct the film together as a team,[27][28] 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.[29]

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.[30][31][32] with the filming process scheduled to continue in and around New York City and greater New York area.[33]

In February 2015, directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch stated that a John Wick sequel had begun development, which was later titled John Wick: Chapter 2.[34][35] The same month Jon Feltheimer, CEO of Lionsgate, stated during a conference call that "We see John Wick as a multiple-title action franchise". Additionally, it was reported that Kolstad would return to write the screenplay.[36] In May 2015, it was confirmed that a sequel was greenlit, 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.[37] It would later move to Rome and later resumed in Montreal, Canada on October 27, 2016.

Inspiration for the film series[edit]

Director Chad Stahelski said some influences for John Wick included: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Point Blank (1967), Le Cercle Rouge (1970), and The Killer (1989).[38]

Stahelski said about The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, "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. 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 homages to that [in John Wick]."[39] 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."[40]

Alistair MacLean and Stephen King were huge influences in the creation of the story of John Wick in terms of characterisation 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."[41] 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. With Stahelski himself stating, "All the way back to Kurosawa up to Sergio Leone. We like the spaghetti western sensibility there, some of the composition." Albeit inspiration and emulation from the noir film genre, Stahelski too added that, "Noir maybe was sort of less impactful for us than the other sort of westerns and Kurosawa and things like that. I think we wanted to make this hard-boiled character."[38][39][42]

Cast and characters[edit]

The following is a list of cast members who portrayed characters appearing in John Wick film series.

Character Film Television series
John Wick John Wick:
Chapter 2
John Wick:
Chapter 3 – Parabellum
The Continental
John Wick Keanu Reeves
Winston Ian McShane
Charon Lance Reddick  
Helen Wick Bridget Moynahan  
Aurelio John Leguizamo  
Jimmy Thomas Sadoski  
Ares   Ruby Rose  
The Bowery King   Laurence Fishburne  
Marcus Willem Dafoe  
Viggo Tarasov Michael Nyqvist  
Iosef Tarasov Alfie Allen  
Ms. Perkins Adrianne Palicki  
Cassian   Common  
Santino D’Antonio   Riccardo Scamarcio  
Abram Tarasov   Peter Stormare  
Julius   Franco Nero  
Sofia   Halle Berry  
The Adjudicator   Asia Kate Dillon  
The Director   Anjelica Huston  
Zero   Mark Dacascos  
Tick Tock Man   Jason Mantzoukas  
The Administrator   Robin Lord Taylor  
TBA   Hiroyuki Sanada  


The following is a list of crew members who have participated in the making of John Wick film series.

Film Director(s) Writer(s) Producers Director of photography Editor Composers
John Wick Chad Stahelski &
David Leitch (uncredited)
Derek Kolstad Basil Iwanyk
David Leitch
Michael Witherill
Eva Longoria
Jonathan Sela Elísabet Ronalds Tyler Bates
Joel J. Richard
John Wick:
Chapter 2
Chad Stahelski Basil Iwanyk
Erica Lee
Dan Laustsen Evan Schiff
John Wick:
Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Derek Kolstad
Shay Hatten
Chris Collins
Marc Abrams


Box office[edit]

Film Release date Box office gross Budget Ref(s)
North America Other
John Wick October 24, 2014 $43,037,835 $45,723,826 $88,761,661 $20-30 million[43] [44]
John Wick: Chapter 2 February 10, 2017 $92,029,184 $79,189,198 $171,218,382 $40 million[45] [46]
Total $135,067,019 $124,913,024 $259,980,043

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the first film has an approval rating of 87% based on 204 reviews, with an average rating of 6.94/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Stylish, thrilling, and giddily kinetic, John Wick serves as a satisfying return to action for Keanu Reeves – and what looks like it could be the first of a franchise."[47] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 68 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[48] CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a "B" grade, on an A+ to F scale.[49][50]

On Rotten Tomatoes, John Wick: Chapter 2 has an approval rating of 89% based on 253 reviews, and an average rating of 7.29/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "John Wick: Chapter 2 does what a sequel should—which in this case means doubling down on the non-stop, thrillingly choreographed action that made its predecessor so much fun."[51] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 75 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[52] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[53]

In other media[edit]

Video games[edit]

Payday 2[edit]

In Payday 2, there is John Wick downloadable content – a free Character Pack and a chargeable Weapons Pack – that released on October 20, 2016, as a cross-promotion.[54][55]

John Wick Chronicles[edit]

On August 7, 2015, Lionsgate and Starbreeze Studios announced a partnership to develop a first-person shooter virtual reality game based on the film for the HTC Vive/Steam VR. Development will be headed by Grab Games, with Starbreeze set to publish. WEVR will develop an introductory experience for the game. The game was released on February 9, 2017 with the name John Wick Chronicles.[56] and has a standalone narrative based on the Continental Hotel.[57][58]


A character skin in the video game Fortnite that resembles John Wick known as The Reaper, was released as a reward for players for a limited time between February 22 and April 30, 2018.[59] The skin caused a significant increase in searches for "John Wick" towards the end of April.[60]

Comic books[edit]

A tie-in comic book was released in 2017 written by Greg Pak.


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