Life is good!
Why am I so excited? Well, according to The Hollywood Reporter, not only are we getting another John Wick film, but at least two more are in the works and they will be filmed back-to-back!
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer announced the news during an analyst call last week:
“We’re also busy preparing scripts for the next two installments of our John Wick action franchise, with John Wick 4 slated to hit theaters Memorial Day weekend 2022. We hope to shoot both John Wick 4 and 5 back-to-back when Keanu becomes available early next year.”
The move makes sense for Lionsgate, too, once you look how the John Wick films have performed at the box office up to this point. The original film, while not a gigantic hit, grossed $86 million off the back of a $20 million production budget. That’s a return of more than 4X what it cost to make. Similarly, John Wick: Chapter 2 racked up $171 million, nearly doubling what its predecessor made, off a fiscally responsible $30 million production cost. Again, that’s a multiplier great than 5X the budget. The upward trend continued with John Wick: Chapter 3– Parabellum, which pulled in jaw-dropping $326 million after yet another humble $56 million production budget. Again, that’s almost double what the previous film grossed in all and enough for a multiplier greater than 6X the production budget. Those are the kinds of returns on investment every studio wants to see in their hit franchises!
Of course, filming multiple sequels back-to-back isn’t a new practice. Many of the most successful film franchises went this route, including The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean. So what might motivate a studio to invest in one, super-long production (because that’s essentially what these are) instead of shooting each installment individually? Let’s take a look!
For one, shooting two films at once gives way to a significantly shorter release gap. Typically, it takes years to schedule, shoot and edit a film. This means excited audiences have to wait that much time to catch the next installment. In that time, excitement naturally wanes. A shorter release gap is an effective way to capitalize on that momentum. That’s why studios like Disney put out multiple Marvel movies a year and why they attempted releasing a new Star Wars annually, too. It’s all about supply and demand and clearly there is a demand for more Keanu Reeves gun-fu. Lionsgate is just trying to meet that demand with more supply.
Another motivating factor for shooting multiple films back-to-back is scheduling, which we already touched upon briefly. There’s no denying that a big part of John Wick‘s appeal is Keanu Reeves himself. While Reeves’s star power serves mostly as a benefit to the series, it’s also a detriment. Reeves is in-demand these days, which means he isn’t available at the studio’s beck and call. He has to make room in his crowded schedule months ahead of time. What’s more, scheduling isn’t just a Reeves issue. Each member of the cast must coordinate their schedules. Sometimes, productions are put on the back burner indefinitely simply because the attached talents just don’t have the time to shoot. With consecutive productions, everyone sets aside one larger chunk of time for filming instead of trying to work out two separate time commitments.
A talent’s time isn’t the only aspect of a production that studios need to plan ahead for. The same forethought must go into securing essential shooting locations, be it a busy sound stage on a studio backlot or a sectioned off stretch of street in Vancouver, especially when it comes to consecutive productions. Chances are, if you’re shooting a sequel, some characters will be returning to the same locations from previous entries. That means each location must be booked months and months ahead of time. Productions can run into issues if producers don’t do this because there’s no guarantee that those locations will be available to them again. With a consecutive production, those locations can be set aside for each film as opposed to separately booked months or even years a part.
Efficiency is the religion of any production. That’s because money is the god. What shooting multiple sequels back-to-back ultimately does for the studio is make the production of each film significantly cheaper. Lionsgate will inevitably save millions of dollars by booking necessary people and places well ahead of time for one larger chunk of time than they would having to go through the entire process twice.
What do you make of the news that not only are we getting a new John Wick, but that the next two sequels are set to film back-to-back? Now, odds are you’re not like me in that the first John Wick is one of your all-time favorite movies; still, the upward trend at the box office the series has seen up to this point suggests that more and more moviegoers are getting in on the exciting Keanu Reeves action. Are you one of those moviegoers? Sound off in the comments below and let me and the rest of the movie-loving world know!