Yeah, we’re thinking he’s back. “John Wick: Chapter 4” is firing off a franchise-best opening weekend at the domestic box office, eyeing a finish that could stretch north of $70 million.
Lionsgate’s action sequel got off to an impressive start with a $29.4 million opening day from 3,855 locations, a gross that includes $8.9 million in Thursday previews.
The “John Wick” series has achieved a consistent growth that most modern Hollywood franchises can only envy, beginning with a storyline written from scratch and following with a series of entries that have each proven to be bigger than the last. The opening weekend gross of “Chapter 4” looks to blast past the $56.8 million debut earned by the series’ third entry, 2019’s “Parabellum.”
The first round of box office returns aren’t the only numbers that are up for the Keanu Reeves vehicle. “Chapter 4” has earned glowing praise from critics, notching a series-high 92% approval rating from top critics on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. The film also landed a franchise-best “A” grade through research firm Cinema Score, indicating resounding enthusiasm among the first round of ticket buyers.
As is typical with blockbuster sequels, the price tag is up too. With a $100 million production budget, “Chapter 4” is the most expensive “Wick” entry yet for producers Thunder Road and 87eleven Entertainment. But with an opening weekend that already looks to outperform original estimates and strong word-of-mouth buzzing among fans, the weeks ahead look bright for “Wick.”
“John Wick: Chapter 4” sees Reeves return as the notorious assassin, hellbent on freeing himself from the jurisdiction of the quasi-religious, all-powerful High Table. In his way are a series of new enemies, faces from the past and a Frenchman with a penchant for torture. Series newcomers Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Rina Sawayama and Scott Adkins join an ensemble of returning players, including Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne and Lance Reddick, who died at the age of 60 earlier this month.
Box office charts also feature a franchise that has gone the opposite direction, with a sequel failing to match its predecessor. After “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” stumbled in its opening weekend with an underwhelming $30 million, the Warner Bros. and DC Studios film is now facing a plummet that could tally higher than 70%.
“Fury of the Gods” looks to push its North American gross to roughly $45 million after the weekend. That’d still be short of the $53 million opening weekend earned by its 2019 predecessor. There’s little hope that the sequel can match the prior entry’s $140 million domestic finish, much less justify its own $110 million production budget with ticket sales.
Paramount and Spyglass Media’s “Scream VI” could end up topping “Fury of the Gods” for second place. The self-branded slasher “requel” is projecting an $8.8 million gross for its third weekend, showing staying power with a 49% drop from its last outing. “Scream VI” has already outperformed the $81 million domestic finish of its predecessor; the sequel now has a good chance of slashing past the $100 million mark.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “Creed III” is also in a tight race with “Shazam!” and “Scream,” projecting about $8 million in ticket sales in its fourth weekend of release. Michael B. Jordan’s boxing drama looks to push its total domestic gross to $140 million through Sunday.
Sony’s sci-fi dinosaur romp “65” looks to round out the top five, projecting $3.2 million for the weekend to bring its domestic gross beyond $27 million.