John Wick is a neo-noir action-thriller media franchise created by screenwriter Derek Kolstad and owned by Summit Entertainment. Keanu Reeves plays John Wick, a retired hitman seeking vengeance for the killing of the dog given to him by his recently deceased wife, and for stealing his car.
The franchise began with the release of John Wick in 2014 followed by two sequels, John Wick: Chapter 2 on February 11, 2017, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum on May 17, 2019. All three films were considered critical and commercial successes, accumulating a collective gross of more than $587 million worldwide. A fourth instalment, John Wick: Chapter 4, is in pre-production and has a release date of May 27, 2022. A fifth instalment is also in development, and it will be shot back-to-back with the fourth film in 2021.
The premise for John Wick was conceived by screenwriter Derek Kolstad who began work on a treatment about a retired contract killer coming out to seek vengeance, entitled Scorn. After one month of work, he had completed the first draft of the screenplay. After addressing several issues, he pitched the script to various clients, garnering at least three offers. When he first began to think about writing the script, Kolstad was influenced by film-noir classics, and the themes of revenge and the antihero. Kolstad explained that he tried to, ‘explore what would happen if the worst man in existence found salvation and when the source of his salvation is ripped from him, what happens? Do the gates of Hades open?’
In December 2012, Thunder Road Pictures had bought the script with discretionary funds, with Kolstad agreeing due to Thunder Road's plan to make the film straight away. When Basil Iwanyk, head of Thunder Road Pictures, had first read Kolstad's original screenplay, he was immediately drawn to the main character of Wick, stating: ‘The tone of the script was subversive and really fun’. He also admired the emotional weight and action elements of the piece. After Thunder Road had optioned the script, Kolstad spent additional months rewriting the script with them. In the original script, the character of John Wick was written with a man in his mid-sixties to play the role, given the title character's fabled reputation as a revered and respected assassin. However, Iwanyk believed that this was irrelevant and bent the original vision ever so slightly, stating: ‘Instead, we decided to look for someone who is not literally older, but who has a seasoned history in the film world.’
In 2013, Keanu Reeves secured the film's male lead. After Iwanyk and Peter Lawson of Thunder Road showed him the script, he thought it to be full of potential and stated: ‘I love the role, but you want the whole story, the whole ensemble to come to life’. Reeves and Kolstad worked closely together on further developing the screenplay and the story, with the screenwriter describing: ‘We spent as much time developing the other characters as we did his. Keanu recognizes that the strength of the storyline lies in even the smallest details.’ The title of the film was later changed from Scorn to John Wick, as according to Kolstad, Keanu liked the name so much, that Reeves kept telling everyone that he was making a film called John Wick, and the producers agreed, changing the title.
During story discussions for John Wick, Reeves contacted Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, whom he originally met on the set of The Matrix, to see if they were interested in choreographing or directing the action of the piece. Reeves admired Stahelski and Leitch's work performing, choreographing, and coordinating, stating that, ‘when I got the script I immediately thought of Chad and Dave for the action design, but I was secretly hoping they'd want to direct it’. He then later added: ‘I knew that they would love the genre and I knew that they would love John Wick. And I thought the worlds that get created – the real world and then this underworld – would be attractive to them, and it was’. After reading Kolstad's script, Stahelski and Leitch told Reeves they wanted to tell the story of John Wick, as they both had a desire to get involved with a project as directors. Impressed with Reeves' enthusiasm and the quality of the script, Stahelski, and Leitch, told him that they wished to direct the film and later presented him with their version of the story which was based on the idea of Wick as an urban legend, a thriller assassin movie with a realistic vibe and an otherworldly setting.
Impressed with their concept, Reeves supported the pair, and Stahelski and Leitch pitched the idea to the studio, who hired them to direct, contrary to their initial request of directing the film's second unit. In May 2013, Stahelski and Leitch came to direct the film together as a team, though it was later ruled by the Directors Guild of America that only Stahelski would be given the director credit. Leitch was credited as a producer.
Principal photography for the first film was confirmed to have begun in New York City with an original shooting schedule meant to have occurred from September 25 to December 5, 2013 with the filming process scheduled to continue in and around New York City and greater New York area.
In February 2015, directors Stahelski and Leitch stated that a John Wick sequel had begun development, which was later titled John Wick: Chapter 2. The same month Jon Feltheimer, CEO of Lionsgate, stated during a conference call that they see John Wick as a multiple-title action franchise. Additionally, it was reported that Kolstad would return to write the screenplay. In May 2015, it was confirmed that a sequel was green-lit, and Lionsgate would be selling the film at the Cannes Film Festival. Principal photography on the film began on October 26, 2015, in New York City. It would later move to Rome and eventually resumed in Montreal, Canada on October 27, 2016.
In October 2016, Stahelski stated a third film was in development. In June 2017, it was reported that Kolstad would return to write the screenplay for the third film. In September 2017, Lionsgate announced a release date of May 17, 2019. In January 2018, it was reported that Chad Stahelski was returning to direct the film and Common, Laurence Fishburne, and Ruby Rose were set to reprise their roles from the second film. Additionally, it was announced that Hiroyuki Sanada had been cast as the film's antagonist. The film began production in early 2018. On May 21, 2018, it was reported that Halle Berry, Asia Kate Dillon, Anjelica Huston, Mark Dacascos and Jason Mantzoukas had joined the cast.
(The information below is subject to change as and when added information arrives)
John Wick: Chapter 4 (2022)
In May 2019, prior to the release of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Chad Stahelski confirmed on a Reddit ’Ask Me Anything’ thread that there has been a discussion for another film and that he would be involved with the project should the sequel be successful. Keanu Reeves stated that he would continue making sequels, as long as the films are successful. Lionsgate officially announced the film during John Wick 3's opening week, with a scheduled release date of May 21, 2021. However, in April 2020 during an interview with Collider, Chad Stahelski revealed that the film will most likely not make its 2021 release date, due to his commitment on The Matrix 4. He also revealed during the same interview, that there has been a 100-page ‘scriptment’ (part script/part outline) written for the film. Partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film is now scheduled for release on May 27, 2022, with Spiral taking its previous spot.
John Wick: Chapter 5 (2023)
In August 2020, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer confirmed that a fifth film was also being developed. It is intended to be shot back-to-back with the fourth instalment. Production is set to begin in early 2021.
In July 2017, Lionsgate announced the development of a spin-off film titled Ballerina, with the intent to expand the franchise within the same fictional world. The story—written by Shay Hatten, Writer's Assistant for Team Downey—involves a young woman who is raised to be an assassin, pursuing revenge on the hit men who killed her family. Basil Iwanyk will serve as producer under his Thunder Road Films banner, along with Erica Lee. In October 2019, Len Wiseman signed onto the project as director, with Keanu Reeves and Chad Stahelski serving as a producer and executive producer, respectively. The film will follow the same ballerina previously portrayed by Unity Phelan in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. In May 2020, Full Circle Cinema reported that the studio is looking toward Chloë Grace Moretz to assign the lead role to.
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Some of the Main Cast Members - click the images for more information