“John Wick: Chapter 4” (Lionsgate) appears to be headed for the month’s best opening weekend after an $8.9 million Thursday preview haul. This suggests a gross that could easily exceed weekend projections of $70 million. However, “John Wick 4” has already chalked up what may be an even more impressive accomplishment.
The film, which is only in theaters with no date announced for home PVOD play, is already #6 on iTunes’ top 10 movie chart. iTunes ranks by transactions, not revenue, and “John Wick 4” earned its spot as a $19.99 direct digital download (rather than a rental).
That presales achievement puts the fourth installment of the Keanu Reeves franchise in some rare company. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” the biggest performers of the last three years, also made opening-day iTunes appearances as presales; both ended up with domestic grosses over $675 million.
For big hits with long windows, it isn’t unusual to generate advance PVOD transactions close to release date. “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Disney) will be released on March 28. It went on sale March 21 and immediately went to #1 at iTunes.
At this writing, the “Wick” presale is also offered at Vudu and Google Play, but not via Amazon. (However, Amazon does offer a “John Wick 4” DVD presale, at $29.96.) No PVOD date is listed; quite possibly, it hasn’t even been determined. Per the wording of the offer, the PVOD orders won’t be charged until date of release. That means the benefit for any platform doing this is getting customers locked in, not early access for payment.
A potential downside in offering presale access is it could risk confusing some ticket buyers. Lionsgate recently released “Operation Fortune: Russe de Guerre” on PVOD after its third weekend, but that title made its date known in advance. It’s currently #2 at iTunes.
The opening domestic weekend for “John Wick 4” will likely best the total gross of any Lionsgate film in the last three years. Its biggest hits were 2022’s “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” ($38 million worldwide) and “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” ($29 million worldwide). Their initial PVOD play came after five and eight weekends in theaters, respectively. respectively. Neither should be considered a PVOD precedent for “John Wick.”