'John Wick' Crushes Woke Competitor at Box Office, Wins Over Fans with Outstanding 95% RT Score
The hit man known as Baba Yaga isn’t just adept at killing his marks — he’s pretty good at slaying his competition as well.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” debuted this week to a raucous level of success, utterly crushing its competition.
And while the initial assessment of the movie’s success may be as simple as “Keanu Reeves and the ‘John Wick’ franchise are really popular,” a close look at the early box office receipts paints a fascinating picture about the current state of cinema.
To wit, “John Wick: Chapter 4,” the fourth installment of the Reeves-driven action blockbuster franchise centered on the eponymous hit man, (who is also referred to at times as “Baba Yaga,” a scary figure from Slavic folklore) was released this week and the early indications are that it’s going to be another feather in the cap for parent company Lionsgate.
According to Deadline, “John Wick 4” totaled $29.4 million at the box office through Friday night, with the movie projected to hit a tidy $70.6 million. Both of those figures are franchise bests.
Of course, the movie didn’t just debut to smashing commercial success. It has enjoyed a hefty dose of critical success as well.
On Rotten Tomatoes, “John Wick 4” currently sits at a 95 percent critic score and 95 percent audience score. CinemaScore gave John Wick an “A.” Entertainment site IGN gave “John Wick 4” a 10/10 score and called it a “masterpiece.”
WARNING: The following social media post contains language which some may find offensive.
This cannot be the final installment of John Wick for the sole fact that #JohnWick4 (🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟) might be one of the best American action movies ever made. We need more, this cannot be the end. The choreography. The cinematography. Keanu. Like this shit is a masterpiece. Credit… pic.twitter.com/cv6U4hZZ0F
— Cinema Tweets (@CinemaTweets1) March 15, 2023
Now, compare the early smashing success of “John Wick 4” with that of “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” ostensibly the closest competitor for John Wick’s demographic currently in theaters.
“Shazam 2” beat “John Wick 4” to the punch by about a week, and yet despite that, is facing grim prospects at the box office.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, it is facing a staggering 69 percent drop from its already woefully disappointing opening weekend, as it looks to net just $9 million in its second weekend. That puts the running 10-day total for “Shazam 2” at roughly $45 million — about $25 million shy of what John Wick has garnered in just its opening weekend.
The plight of “Shazam 2” echoes that of fellow superhero movie “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which experienced a historic 70 percent dropoff in its second week.
So, what does this all mean?
It could mean many different things, but nothing good for Disney and Warner Brothers, the parent companies of Marvel and DC, respectively.
Before that, it is worth noting that “John Wick 4” actually put itself at an immediate handicap compared to the two aforementioned superhero movies: It’s rated R. That distinction alone cuts off the film from swaths of potential moviegoers simply because minors will need parental accompaniment to view the movie. No such restriction is in place for “Ant-Man” or “Shazam.”
And yet despite that handicap, “John Wick” mopped the floor with both of its closest competitors, despite also featuring a somewhat lengthy 2-hour, 49-minute runtime. Why?
First and foremost, market saturation is the likeliest culprit. It feels like you can’t throw a rock without hitting a new superhero movie trailer. Over-the-top, hyper-violent hit-man dramas? Those aren’t nearly as populous in cinema.
Audiences are tired of these rote, assembly-line superhero movies, and “John Wick’s” rousing success, compared to its competitors, clearly speaks to that.
Second, there’s no proselytizing of liberal doctrines or left-leaning ideas in “John Wick.” “Ant-Man” actually tried to drum up sympathy for socialism, while “Shazam” couldn’t stop talking about its lone, gay superhero leading up to the movie’s release.
There’s a reason that fun, absurdist movies like “John Wick” (a franchise where assassins and hit men rule the world through clandestine networks and back channels and gangs) and “Fast and Furious” (a franchise where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson once redirected a submarine torpedo with nothing but his arms) are as successful as they are.
Sometimes, moviegoers truly just want to turn their brains off for a couple of hours and forget about the ills of the world — not be reminded of them.
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