John Wick

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John Wick
John Wick (franchise logo).png
Created byDerek Kolstad
Original workJohn Wick (2014)
Owned bySummit Entertainment
Print publications
ComicsJohn Wick (2017)
Films and television
Television seriesThe Continental (TBA)
Video game(s)
  • John Wick Chronicles (2017)
  • John Wick Hex (TBA)
Soundtrack(s)John Wick
John Wick: Chapter 2
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick is an American action thriller media franchise that was created by Derek Kolstad, which consists of three films written by Kolstad, directed by Chad Stahelski and distributed by Summit Entertainment. Keanu Reeves stars as the eponymous character, John Wick, a retired but deadly hitman seeking vengeance.

The series began in 2014 with the release of John Wick. It was followed by two sequels: John Wick: Chapter 2, which was released on February 10, 2017, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum which was released on May 17, 2019. The three films were successful both critically and commercially. With three films released to date, the series has accrued a collective gross over $580 million worldwide. A sequel entitled John Wick: Chapter 4 is set for release on May 21, 2021.


John Wick is played by Keanu Reeves in the film series.[1][2][3] Born Jardani Jovanovich in Belarus, Wick was an orphan who was taken in by the Tarasov Russian Mafia and brought up as an assassin. It was his ruthlessness as an assassin that led to him being referred to as Baba Yaga, the Bogeyman. At the start of the first film, he was inactive for five years, having retired from the Tarasov Russian Mafia. The character and franchise has been described as a "central boogeyman character who can’t be killed" and a "modern, action-oriented equivalent of '80s horror franchises", and is reported to have a kill count of 306, exceeding Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers combined.[4][5] His violent one-man crusade has been described as an extreme case of workplace revenge.[6]


Film Release date Director(s) Screenwriter(s) Story by Producers Status
John Wick October 24, 2014 (2014-10-24) Chad Stahelski[a] 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) Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins and Marc Abrams Derek Kolstad
John Wick: Chapter 4 May 21, 2021 (2021-05-21) TBA TBA TBA TBA In development
Ballerina TBA TBA Shay Hatten Basil Iwanyk

John Wick (2014)[edit]

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

Development on John Wick began in 2012. In May 2013, Keanu Reeves was cast as the titular character. Principal photography began September 25, 2013 and wrapped December 20, 2013.

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.

The film was announced in February 2015 with principal photography beginning October 26, 2015.

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

John Wick is on the run because 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.

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


John Wick: Chapter 4 (2021)[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 there has been discussion for another film, and that he would be involved with the project should the threequel be successful.[8] Keanu Reeves stated that he will continue making sequels, as long as the films are successful.[9] Lionsgate officially announced the film during John Wick 3's opening week, with a scheduled release date of May 21, 2021.[10]

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 hitmen that killed her family. Basil Iwanyk will serve as producer under his Thunder Road Films banner.[11]

Potential Atomic Blonde crossover[edit]

In July 2017, David Leitch discussed the potential of a crossover film featuring the franchise's titular assassin with the hitwoman from Atomic Blonde. Leitch directed the latter, after previously co-directing John Wick. [12]


In June 2017, it was announced that Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad were developing 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] That same month it was announced that the series would be a prequel to the film series.[16]

In January 2018, the series was ordered and will premiere on 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.[17] COO of Starz, Jeffrey Hirsch, later confirmed that the television series will be a prequel that takes places years before the films.[18]

Video games[edit]

Wick is an officially-licensed playable character in the heist-based video game Payday 2.[19] Wick-themed elements were added to Fortnite Battle Royale upon the launch of its ninth season, occurring a day before the third film's release.[20]

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.[21]

John Wick Hex was announced in May 2019 as a turn-based tactical role-playing game, to be developed by Mike Bithell and published by Lionsgate Games. The game has the player control Wick in various missions to use his array of skills to take down opponents, and will feature the voices of Ian McShane and Lance Reddick reprising their film roles, among others.[22]

Comic books[edit]

A comic book mini-series was released November 29, 2017 by Dynamite and was written by Greg Pak and drawn by Giovanni Valletta.[23]


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.[24][dead link] 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.[25] 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?"[26]

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.[27] 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 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 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."[28]

Keanu Reeves in 2014.

On May 7, 2013, it was announced that Keanu Reeves had begun 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."[29] Reeves and Kolstad worked closely together on further developing the screenplay and the story,[25][30] 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."[31] 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.

Chad Stahelski in 2014.

During story discussions for John Wick, Reeves contacted Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who he originally met on the set of The Matrix,[32] to see if they were interested in choreographing or directing the action of the piece.[33] 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."[33] 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."[33] 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,[34][35] 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.[36]

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.[37][38][39] with the filming process scheduled to continue in and around New York City and greater New York area.[40]

In February 2015, directors Stahelski and Leitch stated that a John Wick sequel had begun development, which was later titled John Wick: Chapter 2.[41][42] 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.[43] 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.[44] It would later move to Rome and later resumed in Montreal, Canada on October 27, 2016.

In October 2016, Stahelski stated a third film is in development.[45] In June 2017, it was reported that Kolstad will return to write the screenplay for the third film[46] In September 2017, Lionsgate announced a release date of May 17, 2019.[47] 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 Hiroyuki Sanada had been cast as the film's antagonist. The film began production in early 2018.[48] On May 21, 2018, it was reported that Halle Berry, Asia Kate Dillon, Anjelica Huston, Mark Dacascos and Jason Mantzoukas have joined the cast.

In May 2019, prior to the release of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Chad Stahelski confirmed on a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" thread that there has been discussion for another film, and that he would be involved with the project should the threequel be successful.[8] Keanu Reeves stated that he will continue making sequels until the audience stops going.[9] Lionsgate officially announced the film during Chapter 3's opening week, with a scheduled release date of May 21, 2021.[10]

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).[49]

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. 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]."[50] 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."[51]

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."[52] 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."[49][50][53]

Cast and characters[edit]

The following is a list of cast members who portrayed characters appearing 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 Television
John Wick John Wick: Chapter 2 John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum John Wick: Chapter 4 The Continental
2014 2017 2019 2021 TBA
Jonathan "John" Wick
Jardani Jovonovich
Keanu Reeves  
Winston Ian McShane  
Charon Lance Reddick  
Helen Wick Bridget Moynahan Bridget MoynahanP  
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  
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  
The Adjudicator   Asia Kate Dillon  
The Director   Anjelica Huston  
The Elder   Saïd Taghmaoui  
Berrada   Jerome Flynn  
Tick Tock Man   Jason Mantzoukas  
The Administrator   Robin Lord Taylor  


Box office[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 [54][55]
John Wick: Chapter 2 February 10, 2017 $92,029,184 $79,510,703 $171,539,887 807 N/A $40 million [56][57][55]
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum May 17, 2019 $170,523,016 $150,285,123 $320,808,139 293 429 $55–75 million [58][55][59][60]
Total $305,590,035 $275,519,652 $581,109,687 $115–145 million

Critical response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
John Wick 87% (209 reviews)[61] 68 (40 reviews)[62] B[63]
John Wick: Chapter 2 89% (259 reviews)[64] 75 (43 reviews)[65] A−[63]
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum 90% (316 reviews)[66] 73 (50 reviews)[67] A−[63]


  1. ^ Stahelski co-directed the first John Wick film with David Leitch, but the Directors Guild of America awarded sole directorial credit to Stahelski; Leitch is instead listed as a producer.[7]


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