Keanu Reeves as John Wick is finally back in theaters next year, and while the fourth installment remains shrouded in mystery, we’ve broken down everything you need to know so far.
With action icon (and beloved Hollywood darling) Keanu Reeves in the lead, “John Wick” has emerged as one of the biggest franchises of the past decade. Fans have had to wait awhile for a new installment since 2019’s “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum” proved the popularity of franchise creator Derek Kolstad’s universe by grossing $56 million on opening weekend. That was more than the opening grosses of the 2014 and 2017 original films combined.
Altogether, the three films have collected more than $573 million at the global box office — which is a major milestone for an original action franchise competing against comic-book-driven eyeballs.
And in Hollywood, big box office returns mean more sequels to come. “John Wick 4” and “John Wick 5” are already in the works, with the fourth installment set for a March 24, 2023 release following multiple COVID-related delays.
“Chapter 4” kicks off the two-part finale planned for Wick. The franchise spurred upcoming spin-off film “Ballerina” starring Ana de Armas and Peacock prequel series “The Continental” about the hotel for mercenaries, set for a March 2023 release as part of a three-part special event. Colin Woodell will take over Ian McShane’s role as hotel manager Winston for the 1975-set series, along with Mel Gibson, Ayomide Adegun, and Peter Greene.
“Ride Along” collaborators Greg Coolidge and Kirk Ward will both write and be showrunners for the series, along with their respective “The Expendables” prequel show. Albert Hughes (“Menace II Society,” “The Book of Eli”) will direct two episodes and Charlotte Brandstrom (“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”) will direct one.
As for upcoming film “John Wick Chapter 4,” much of the plot, or even the new players, remains shrouded in mystery. But as we wait til next year to find Keanu Reeves once again seeking vengeance, IndieWire has compiled a list of must-know details about the new installment of the beloved action franchise.
Keanu Reeves Calls ‘John Wick’ a ‘Playful’ Challenge
Keanu Reeves reflected on the “John Wick” franchise, telling People magazine that the stunts are “playful” to him.
“I love the challenges of ‘John Wick,’ it’s super intense. It’s playful,” Reeves said. “I get to do different things — driving, you know? [I get to use] nunchucks and do movie Judo, movie jujitsu. So I really enjoy that.”
Audiences Should View John Wick as Odysseus
“John Wick Chapter 4” director Chad Stahelski revealed the next installment will focus on the “mythology” of the Continental and the assassin underground world. “I don’t really believe — at least for the ‘John Wick’ movies — in a three-act structure,” Stahelski told Variety. “I believe in storytelling and leaving it. You know, we’ve always seen John Wick as Odysseus. So we take the time we need to tell the story.”
And hence the needs for differnet chapters. The fourth installment is already billed as the longest movie in the franchise yet, and the director issued a warning to fans: “As long as we don’t fall asleep watching it, we keep it going. But I guess there is a bathroom limit.”
John Wick’s Ending Is an “Emotional” Journey, “No Happy Ending”
Director Chad Stahleski has warned “John Wick” fans that the character will not “ride off into the fucking sunset” after the franchise wraps in five films.
“John may survive all this shit, but at the end of it, there’s no happy ending. He’s got nowhere to go,” Stahelski told IndieWire of how Reeves’ storyline may end. “Honestly, I challenge you right now, here’s a question to you: How do you fucking want me to end it? Do you think he’s going to ride off into the fucking sunset? He’s killed 300 fucking people and he’s just going to [walk away], everything’s okay? He’s just going to fall in love with a love interest? If you’re this fucking guy, if this guy really exist[ed], how is this guy’s day going to end? He’s fucked for the rest of his life. It’s just a matter of time.”
Stahelski later added to Collider that it was a “puzzle” to find the right balance in tone for the film. “We’ve tried to do something at the end that is emotional,” he hinted.
“John Wick Chapter 4” Will Be the Longest in the Franchise
Director Chad Stahleski told Collider that “Chapter 4” is “longer than the other three,” before adding, “but it’s not that long.” While Stahleski stayed mum over the runtime, it still means the fourth “John Wick” film is at least two hours and twelve minutes, topping “John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum” which clocked in at 131 minutes.
Keanu Reeves Will “Suffer” Due to Unprecedented Stunts
Director Chad Stahelski promised that “Chapter 4” will feature “new and interesting ways to have John Wick suffer” in fight scenes.
Reeves, who performs most of his own stunts and fight choreography alongside Stahelski, added in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “That’s where the action comes from. Figure out how to make him suffer, and then design backward.”
“John Wick Chapter 4” Teaser Trailer Hints at a Reckoning
The first look at Keanu Reeves as John Wick for “Chapter 4” arrived during 2022 San Diego Comic Con. The teaser trailer kicks off the two-part finale for Reeves as Wick, setting up a “deeper” conclusion for assassin Wick’s existential journey, as star Laurence Fishburne revealed.
There Will Be a “John Wick: Chapter 5”
Back in August of 2020, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer revealed that not only would there be a fifth “John Wick” movie, but it would also be filmed back-to-back with the fourth. “We’re also busy preparing scripts for the next two installments of our John Wick action franchise, with ‘John Wick 4’ slated to hit theatres Memorial Day weekend 2022,” said Feltheimer.
Production Was Delayed by the Pandemic (and “The Matrix 4”)
Originally, “John Wick: Chapter 4” was supposed to hit theaters this Memorial Day weekend. However, production delays and theater closures due to COVID-19 affected the production schedule of “John Wick: Chapter 4” — as did Keanu Reeves’ commitments to (the tentatively titled) “The Matrix 4,” which was also supposed to be released this Memorial Day weekend.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” finally began production at the end of June 2021.
Because of that, as Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer announced, “John Wick: Chapter 4” is now set to be released on May 27, 2022. “The Matrix 4,” on the other hand, is set to be released this December.
“Chapter 4” and “Chapter 5” Won’t Be Filmed Back to Back
As Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said last August, “We hope to shoot both ‘John Wick 4’ & ‘5’ back to back when Keanu becomes available early next year.” However, due to the aforementioned production delays and state of the world, the fourth and fifth movies in the John Wick franchise no longer will be shot back-to-back.
It’s an International Affair
“John Wick: Chapter 4” will be location-shooting throughout the summer, as this addition to the franchise will take Wick throughout Europe — specifically Berlin, Germany. In addition to the European shooting locations of Berlin and Paris, France, “John Wick: Chapter 4” is also set to shoot in both Japan and the John Wick origin point, New York City.
Where We Left Things Off
“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” ended with a wounded John Wick — left for dead* by Ian McShane’s Winston, who was determined to stay in the High Table’s good graces and keep control of The Continental, retrieved by The Tick Tock Man and taken underground to (an also very much alive) Bowery King. Moving on to “John Wick: Chapter 4,” it seems that Wick and Bowery King will be joining forces in order to take on the High Table.
*There is a theory that Winston actually helped Wick and didn’t really try to kill him. That question will hopefully be answered in “John Wick: Chapter 4.”
There Will Be Familiar Faces…
Unlike “The Matrix 4,” Laurence Fishburne (Bowery King) is returning to this continuing Keanu Reeves franchise. As are Lance Reddick (Charon) and Ian McShane (Winston). Still unconfirmed are both Halle Berry (Sofia) and Jason Mantzoukas (Tick Tock Man), who made their John Wick debuts in “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.”
But don’t worry: Keanu Reeves is also returning as the titular John Wick.
…and Newcomers Aplenty
In terms of the newcomers to the franchise, Bill Skarsgård, Shamier Anderson, Scott Adkins, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Donnie Yen have all been confirmed as joining the cast by this point. As has pop star Rina Sawayama, making her film debut.
Sanada was originally set to star in “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” as Zero — who ended up being played by Mark Dacascos — but an Achilles tendon injury put him out of commission. And while, much like his fellow newcomers, the character Sanada will be playing has been kept rather tightlipped, a quote from a Collider interview with Fishburne does suggest that it will be someone named “Watanabe”:
“I read the script. It’s really, really cool. As much as it’s the same world as the other three films, it’s just deeper. It’s much deeper in terms of the code of the assassin and the relationship that he has with one character in particular who I think Mr. Watanabe is playing… is really the heart and soul of it.”
Director Chad Stahelski Has Returned…
A former stuntman, Stahelski has directed the entire franchise thus far.
…but Writer Derek Kolstad Has Not
Instead, Shay Hatten (“American Assassin”) and Michael Finch (“Army of the Dead”) are credited as the writers for “John Wick: Chapter 4.”
As Kolstad — who wrote the first two John Wick films and co-wrote “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” — said back in March, “No, it wasn’t my decision. When you think of the contractually of these things, the third one I shared the credit with any number of people, [the studio] didn’t have to come back to me, and so they didn’t.”
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