Why John Wick's Director Loved Seeing The Movie On The Big Screen And What He Learned

Keanu Reeves as John Wick

Making a movie is a difficult and time-intensive process, but more often than not, nothing beats filmmakers getting to see the hard work from the cast and crew assembled into the finished product. Such was the case for Chad Stahelski during the making of the action-thriller John Wick, which he co-directed with David Leitch. That said, even after seeing John Wick in its final form, there were still some lessons to be learned.

During a recent interview, Chad Stahelski was asked about if given his love of the “cinematic experience,” is there something that he could “personally find” something in the world of streaming, akin to the Netflix movie Extraction. Stahelski responded:

I’ve thought about that quite a bit because that’s a very viable option for most of us that direct. My company has deals in projects with those folks right now. At least now, I wouldn’t choose a director’s gig based on format. I’m going to read the script and ask myself, do I want to make this? I want to have fun. But as a viewer, I grew up with drive-ins and theaters. My romantic vision of what I do with storytelling and movies is on a big-screen format. Like the first time I saw John Wick projected on a big screen I almost shit myself. 'Yeah, this is pretty cool.'

I can only imagine. Like Extraction’s director, Sam Hargrave, both Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s Hollywood backgrounds are rooted in stuntwork so John Wick afforded them the chance to finally helm a picture of their own. And while a director can see how a movie’s coming along on smaller screens during the editing process, once it’s presented on the big screen, needless to say that’s an even bigger deal. Clearly the general public liked the final product too, as John Wick was met with a lot of positive reception, made $86 million worldwide off a budget between $20-30 million, and launched a franchise.

As for those lessons that Chad Stahelski learned after seeing John Wick on a big screen, here’s what he had to say later in his conversation with DiscussingFilm:

We had no money. We had to watch dailies and edit on this small TV. So the first time we saw it, I really thought, wow. One, you realize how many mistakes you made. Two, you realize wow this is really cool seeing it on the big screen. But that’s the romantic, nostalgic thing I grew up with. Today, audiences are so used to streaming and sitting at home being comfortable and stuff, so who knows what’s going to happen. But again, I’m going to go with story and project first and then the format is the followup for me.

So while Chad Stahelski is open to the prospect of tackling something streaming-related, the fact that it’d be releasing on such a platform rather than in a traditional theatrical setting won’t be the main thing that factors into his decision to accept or reject the project. No matter where you’re watching a movie, story matters first and foremost, and it’s good that Stahelski continues to keep that in mind.

While David Leitch has gone on to direct movies like Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2 and Hobbs & Shaw, Chad Stahelski continues to steer the John Wick ship alongside the eponymous character’s actor, Keanu Reeves, and Derek Kolstad, who wrote the first two movies on his own, co-wrote the third movie with Shay Hatten, Chris Collins and Marc Abrams. The franchise is also planning to expand with the Ballerina spinoff and the Starz series The Continental.

In addition to both of the John Wick sequels released so far also earning a lot of critical acclaim, they’ve also done increasingly well at the box office, with John Wick: Chapter 2 collecting over $171.5 million worldwide and John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum ending its theatrical run with a $326.7 million haul. Originally John Wick: Chapter 4 was supposed to come out on May 21, 2021, due to the global health crisis and Reeves having not yet finished his work on The Matrix 4, it’s been pushed to May 27, 2022.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on how John Wick: Chapter 4 is coming along, and be sure to look through our 2020 release schedule to learn what movies are supposed to come out later this year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.