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When it comes to budgets, Hollywood sequels have notoriously followed a similar pattern for decades: if a movie is a hit, the follow-up needs to be at least double the size. And while there are a fair number of success stories that start this way, it can also sometimes lead to disaster. Fortunately, this isn't a gamble that the John Wick franchise plans on taking with its third installment, as the director has confirmed plans for John Wick: Chapter 3 to exist at the same scale as its predecessors. Chad Stahelski recently told me,
We don't want to go the typical route of making something big and blowing everything up... Keanu [Reeves] and I have talked a lot about it, what we want to do, and we'd like to keep it within the same budget range and just be creative within our resources. We just don't want to ever fall into the trappings of, 'Bigger is better, give me more money, I'll blow more shit up.' We just want to stay creative.
While a good proportion of studio blockbuster sequels these days can see budgets soar between $150 and $250 million, John Wick: Chapter 2 was made for just a reported $40 million. And while it made $166 million at the global box office (versus the $88 million haul from the original), the success isn't going to lead John Wick: Chapter 3 to be any bigger. The scale of the next film in the series was something I discussed with Chad Stahelski yesterday at the Blu-ray/DVD press day for John Wick: Chapter 2, and he confirmed that things won't radically change for the franchise going forward.
Continuing his thought, Stahelski noted that he actually feels as though the modest budgets of John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 wound up provided him with a certain level of inspiration. Because he couldn't do absolutely everything that he wanted to do with the money he had, it forced him to approach and think about things differently. Said the director,
I think it really made a difference on the second one was how to be creative with what we have. How to create the movie on a 50-day schedule for a certain price point, and how to be creative within that. And just get really good talent! Both crew and cast and see what we can do.
Of course, getting ridiculous with scale isn't the only sequel pitfall that Chad Stahelski is working to avoid with John Wick: Chapter 3. The filmmaker is very much aware of the allure of nostalgia, and people having a strict, firm idea of what they want every movie in a franchise to be -- but that's not at all something that he is interested in with this series. Instead, he wants to use the next chapter to show movie-goers a part of the world they haven't seen it. Stahelski told me,
When people love the original -- I love the original -- but you don't want to go back and remake the original. By definition you can't, because it's original! So how do you take the audience on a different path?
John Wick: Chapter 3 has been in development for most of the year, with screenwriter Derek Kolstad once again holding the pen -- and production could actually start before the end of 2017. Stay tuned for more from my interview with Chad Stahelski, and look for John Wick: Chapter 2, which is now available for Digital Download, and will be on Blu-ray and DVD on June 13th.