The hidden side of politics

John Wick franchise tops $1 billion at global box office as Lionsgate explores splitting up

Reported by CNBC: 

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 Lionsgate.

This week, the John Wick series, comprised of four films starring Keanu Reeves in the titular role, crossed $1 billion at the global box office.

Each film has generated significantly more box office returns that its predecessor, a dynamic that’s rare in Hollywood.

The first “John Wick” was widely praised by critics and audiences for its highly choreographed fight sequences, which were often shot in long, single takes to convey the action. In many action flicks directors and editors utilize rapid cuts and closeups, often obscuring the fight choreography.

Guns blazing at the box office

Here’s how much each John Wick movie has grossed worldwide, according to Lionsgate:

  • “John Wick” (2014): $87.7 million; estimated budget of $20 million to $30 million
  • “John Wick: Chapter 2” (2017): $171.5 million; estimated budget of $40 million
  • “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” (2019): $326.7 million; estimated budget of $75 million
  • “John Wick: Chapter 4” (2023): $425 million and counting; estimated budget of $100 million

The film franchise has set up a miniseries called “The Continental: From the World of John Wick,” which tells the story of how Winston Scott (played by Ian McShane in the movies) came to own and operate The Continental hotel in the 1970s. The hotel is a safe haven for assassins. The show will air on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service later this year.

Lionsgate is also set to launch a spinoff starring Ana de Armas called “Ballerina.”

The milestone for its “John Wick” franchise comes as Lionsgate has been exploring its options for the two key parts of its business – its film studio and Starz cable and streaming unit.

Despite being overshadowed by larger peers including Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney, Amazon and Comcast‘s NBCUniversal, Lionsgate’s stock has surged this year. In February, the company reported earnings that beat expectations.

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Lionsgate shares have been on a steady rise in the last year.

Lionsgate has been exploring its options for Starz for some time now. Last year, it held talks to sell a 20% stake in Starz, and had also engaged in talks with multiple potential buyers for its studio business, CNBC previously reported. Originally, in 2022, the company had said it expected to complete a sale or spinoff of Starz by the end of the summer.

CNBC previously reported at the time Lionsgate had been leaning toward divesting its studio division, which has a robust library that also includes “The Hunger Games” franchise and TV series like “Mad Men,” instead.

Lionsgate executives said during the February earnings call that the company was on track to separate Lionsgate and Starz by September. “Separation will give our two core businesses the opportunity to pursue strategic and financial paths that makes sense for each of them,” CEO Jon Feltheimer said in February. “We’re exploring a number of financial strategies to leave both companies with strong balance sheets at the time of separation.”

In March, Feltheimer said at an investor conference that the company was still “looking at a bunch of different alternatives” when it came to exploring strategic options. “We don’t need any money, we’ve delevered ourselves,” referring to their debt load, he added.

Lionsgate is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth quarter earnings Thursday.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal operates Peacock.