At a time when talk is percolating that CBS is kicking the tires of Lionsgate’s STARZ unit, the mini-major is making a comeback at the box office with its Keanu Reeves R-rated action picture John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum which is poised to open up to an estimated $56.9M. That’s the highest opening for Lionsgate since November 2015’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2‘s $102.6M. The threequel, which is not a victim of threequelitis at the box office in any way shape or form, earned an A- CinemaScore, the same grade as John Wick: Chapter 2.
Further props to the continued mojo of Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, which despite shedding 442 screens will power past Avatar’s lifetime domestic of $760.5M this weekend to become the second highest grossing film ever at the domestic box office with $769M. Also, Warner Bros/Legendary’s Pokemon Detective Pickachu looks to be holding with $27.7M in weekend 2.
Knock on wood, but no severe front-loading here as the pic will clear $100M well before the holiday weekend. Overall, a very healthy pre Memorial Day weekend at the box office even though counter-programming like Universal/Amblin’s A Dog’s Journey ($8.75M) and Warner Bros/MGM’s teen girl pic The Sun Is Also A Star aren’t wowing ($2.85M). The event pics are truly squashing it.
The success of John Wick: Chapter 3 is all very reminiscent of New Line’s Austin Powers series. What appeared to look like a niche genre demo pic with John Wick ($43M at the domestic box office), popped in home ancillaries and Lionsgate was keen to jump on and mine. Such IP is rare, and what studios crave in the changing times of DVD-to-digital home entertainment.
As chairman of the Motion Picture Group Joe Drake has been focused on reestablishing Lionsgate as a home for talent – filmmakers and executives. In a relatively short period of time, he has made a significant impact infusing Lionsgate with a diverse slate of highly anticipated event films, suspenseful thrillers, comedies, and faith based dramas. John Wick 3 reflects all of these initiatives and is one of the first films Joe green lit after returning to the studio in October 2017.
The threequel’s launch was orchestrated by the new global marketing team led by Damon Wolf, President of Worldwide Marketing.
In Media, the team launched their campaign in January with high profile integrations and custom content partnerships executed across 10 networks reaching over 193 million views for the trailer.
Such campaign needle movers for John Wick 3 include a fan-first “Text for a Head Start”, which allowed tens of thousands of rabid fans to enable in-world text messaging from The Continental (Wick’s haunt) straight to their phones. Throughout every beat, fans received film content, key art, and promotional opportunities first, one hour before the general population. This effort allowed for direct-to-audience promotional communication, ensuring the rapid dissemination of campaign messaging across social platforms, originating from the passionate fans and press members that signed up and received the materials first. This initiative was part of the core strategy of the studio’s data driven marketing.
There’s also no better way at reaching a kinetic male core audience then partnering with the Fortnite game which has a reach of 250M users. Lionsgate’s games division headed by Peter Levin and Epic Games collaborated on a John Wick in-game event for Fortnite that included free John Wick Challenges. Additionally, players could jump into the in-game shop to purchase the John Wick set, which includes the John Wick outfit.
Among promo partners there was the Ike Behar clothing line which the designer created for the film, dubbed The Continental Collection comprised of Italian made suits, dress shirts, ties. Behar worked closely with John Wick 3 costume designer Luca Mosca – Courtesy: Deadline