Lionsgate offered CinemaCon attendees a preview of its upcoming film slate on Thursday, and “John Wick: Chapter 4” was front and center. The studio is set to release the latest entry in the Keanu Reeves franchise next March, and the early footage promises more over-the-top action and an increasingly ambitious scope.
“‘John Wick’ is more than a film series,” said Lionsgate chairman Joe Drake. “It’s a modern day myth. It’s a carefully unfolding universe. And it’s an experience to be witnessed on the big screen.”
Reeves and franchise director Chad Stahelski were on hand to promote the film, which Stahelski described as “a love letter to classic action movies.” Everyone was in agreement that the film will feature more of the extreme fight scenes that have come to define the series.
“What moviegoers told us is that watching the first ‘Wick’ was seeing the genre actually evolve right before your eyes,” Drake said. “With fight scenes crazier and somehow more real than anything you’ve ever seen.”
The first footage of “John Wick: Chapter 4” begins in the desert, and an offscreen character is heard saying “A new day is dawning. New ideas, new rules, new management.” Then the action quickly starts, and Keanu Reeves’ Wick says “I’m going to kill them all,” before proceeding to use martial arts to do just that.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” was written by Michael Finch and Shay Hatten. In addition to Reeves, it stars Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne, Donnie Yen, Hiroyuki Sanada, Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Shamier Anderson, and Ian McShane.
If “John Wick: Chapter 4” wasn’t enough, Lionsgate also offered a first look at “Ballerina,” a spin-off starring Ana de Armas as another assassin seeking revenge on her family’s killers. That film is currently in production, but the presentation featured a look at de Armas sporting a machine gun.
The event underscored just how important the “John Wick” franchise has become to Lionsgate. Expectations were moderate when the first “John Wick” was released in 2014, but the film was praised for Reeves’ performance and the unique style of highly choreographed action sequences. Two sequels quickly followed, with “John Wick: Chapter 2” being released in 2017 and “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” coming in 2019. A fifth film has already been announced, and and television prequel titled “The Continental” is also expected to air on Starz later this year. For a studio without many other recognizable brands, the series’ continued success is essential.
In addition to the “John Wick” franchise, Lionsgate is currently in production on “The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” a prequel based on the new novel by Suzanne Collins; “Borderlands,” Eli Roth’s adaptation of the hit video game starring Cate Blanchett, Kevin Hart, Jamie Lee Curtis, and the voice of Jack Black; and a “Dirty Dancing” sequel starring Jennifer Grey.
Additional reporting by Chris Lindahl and Tony Maglio.