Keanu Reeves stars in ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’.
What started with a retired hitman avenging his murdered dog has turned into a billion dollar blockbuster movie franchise for Lions Gate.
This week, the John Wick series, consisting of four films starring Keanu Reeves in the lead role, topped $1 billion at the global box office.
Each film generated significantly more box office returns than its predecessor, a rare dynamic in Hollywood.
The first “John Wick” was widely praised by critics and audiences alike for its highly choreographed fight sequences, which were often shot in long single takes to convey the action. In many action movies, directors and editors use quick cuts and close-ups, often obscuring the fight choreography.
Guns at the box office
Here’s how much each John Wick movie has made worldwide, according to Lionsgate:
- “John Wick” (2014): $87.7 million; estimated budget of 20 to 30 million dollars
- “John Wick: Chapter 2” (2017): $171.5 million; budget estimated at $40 million
- “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” (2019): $326.7 million; budget estimated at $75 million
- “John Wick: Chapter 4” (2023): $425 million and up; budget estimated at $100 million
The film franchise has set up a miniseries called “The Continental: From the World of John Wick”, which tells how Winston Scott (played by Ian McShane in the films) became the owner and operator of The Continental hotel in the 1970s. The hotel is a haven for assassins. The show will air on by NBCUniversal Peacock streaming service later this year.
Lionsgate is also set to launch a spin-off starring Ana de Armas called “Ballerina.”
The milestone for its “John Wick” franchise comes as Lionsgate explored its options for the two key parts of its business – its film studio and its Starz cable and streaming unit.
Although eclipsed by larger peers including Discovery of Warner Bros., disney, Amazon And Comcast‘s NBCUniversal, shares of Lionsgate have surged this year. In February, the company reported earnings that beat expectations.
Shares of Lionsgate have risen steadily over the past year.
Lionsgate has been exploring its options for Starz for some time now. Last year, he held talks to sell a 20% stake in Starz, and had also engaged in talks with several potential buyers for his studio business, CNBC previously reported. Originally, in 2022, the company said it expected to complete a sale or spinoff of Starz by the end of the summer.
CNBC previously reported at the time that Lionsgate was leaning toward divesting its studio division, which has a robust library that also includes “The Hunger Games” franchise and TV series like “Mad Men.”
Lionsgate executives said on the February earnings call that the company is on track to separate Lionsgate and Starz by September. “The separation will give our two core businesses the opportunity to pursue strategic and financial paths that make sense for each of them,” CEO Jon Feltheimer said in February. “We are exploring a number of financial strategies to leave both companies with strong balance sheets upon separation.”
In March, Feltheimer told an investor conference that the company was “always considering a bunch of different alternatives” when it came to exploring strategic options. “We don’t need the money, we got out of debt,” referring to their indebtedness, he added.
Lionsgate is due to release its fiscal fourth quarter results on Thursday.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal operates Peacock.