The following post contains SPOILERS for John Wick: Chapter 4.
When John Wick: Chapter 4 was officially announced back in the summer of 2020, it was announced with the next sequel, John Wick: Chapter 5, which was supposedly going to be shot back-to-back with part four.
“We hope to shoot both John Wick 4 & 5 back to back when Keanu becomes available early next year,” said Lionsgate CEO John Feltheimer at the time.
But now John Wick: Chapter 4 is here (Covid-19 delayed things somewhat) and not only is Chapter 5 was not shot with it, if you’ve seen Chapter 4 you know another sequel is, at best, a long shot. That’s because — here is your last chance to bail before spoilers — John Wick: Chapter 4 concludes with John Wick’s death. The film’s final scene is a funeral where Ian McShane’s Winston, Laurence Fishburne’s Bowery King, and John Wick’s dog all mourn at his grave side.
So what happened to the plans for two back-to-back sequels? Franchise director Chad Stahelski recently explained the change in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “The real reason we didn’t do four and five together was because I raised my hand,” Stahelski revealed. “I even went to Keanu and said, ‘I’m just not good enough to do four and five. I’m good enough to do one. I can make a difference between three and four, but I’m not good enough to somehow magically get better in the middle of the process between four and five.’ The reason these movies keep getting better is because we keep getting better, but I need the time to go to school and get better. So that’s the real reason why we divided it up at the time. I’m not a good enough director to deliver two uniquely special experiences.”
READ MORE: How John Wick: Chapter 4 Pulled Off Its Greatest Action Sequence
Stahelski says as he and the John Wick creative team were developing the fourth movie, they realized one way they could make it different and better than the previous films was to give it a conclusion — i.e., the title character’s heroic death. At first, Lionsgate’s response to that idea was, in Stahelski’s words, “Are you f—ing insane?” Eventually, they warmed to giving John Wick a proper sendoff.
But if you’ve seen the film, you know that we see John Wick’s funeral, not necessarily his death. It’s not totally implausible that the character might have faked his demise to finally get some peace and quiet. Stahelski also told THR that they did shoot a version that even more strongly hinted at John’s survival, but that a test audience “revolted pretty hard about [it].” So the filmmakers stuck with the more “mysterious” version that you see onscreen — which still includes a shot of John’s dog looking up at one point to place just the tiniest bit of doubt about John’s fate in the audience’s mind.
Whether they ever make a John Wick: Chapter 5 or not, the franchise will continue. Keanu Reeves has already filmed a cameo role in Ballerina, a spinoff that expands on a subplot from John Wick: Chapter 3 about ballerinas who moonlight as assassins. That movie, which stars Ana de Armas, doesn’t have an official release date yet, but it was mostly shot in the fall of last year, so it will likely premiere later in 2023 or in early 2024.
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