It’s been an uneven SXSW: While the film side fired off with the opening night of Paramount/eOne’s Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, there weren’t any big studio marquee pics Saturday and Sunday; the scheduling conflict of Oscars providing a monkey wrench to the fest’s momentum which is typically a one-two-three punch throughout the weekend.
However, tonight, the last-minute surprise screening of Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 4 got the festival’s fanboy and fangirl electricity back on track with the rolling laughs and rolling cheers that are the standards of a classic SXSW premiere, complete with star Keanu Reeves and filmmaker Chad Stahelski onstage at the Paramount. The movie even got a short standing ovation during the credits.
Stahelski referenced what a big deal this was: the first John Wick debuted in Austin, TX nine years ago (but at Fantastic Fest). It was only proper to bring Chapter 4 back.
Without spoiling too much, Reeves expressed why he decided to do a fourthquel to the crowd during the pic’s Q&A (the sequel runs 10 minutes shy of three hours): “For him to get his freedom in a way, that was the reason to tell the story.”
Reeves revealed that he has a cameo in the John Wick spinoff The Ballerina when asked by a fan how the gun toting hitman will appear in the future iterations of the franchise. While that’s long been believed that he’d have a cameo in the Ana de Armas movie, Reeves officially confirmed that rumor tonight at Austin’s Paramount Theatre.
Here’s more from the post screening Q&A of John Wick: Chapter 4:
Reeves said he was stoked about playing “the spoken and outspoken” parts in the series, referring to a moment in the first movie with Lance Reddick’s character whereby John Wick puts the coin down on his desk. “This was a pure, simple gesture,” said the actor.
“That shows up throughout all the relationships in the movie where everyone sees that detail in the world behind the world,” he continued.
One fan yelled, “Bring back Constantine!”
“I’m trying,” Reeves answered.
Lionsgate was here last year with the Nicolas Cage satire The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which also played with a fevered pitch, and the studio has the Asian American female comedy Joyride here later this week.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is set to open March 24 to a franchise high of between $60M-$70M at the domestic box office. Note that’s significantly more than the domestic box office run of the fourth Matrix, The Matrix Resurrections, which grossed $37.6M stateside, hampered by a theatrical day-and-date release with HBO Max.