And, with that, we all win.
Sequels are a tricky business. For the most part, they are a guarantee success: after all, giving consumers more of what they clearly liked the first time is just good business, which is why most huge movies end up getting follow-ups at some point down the road. But as the summer of 2015 taught us, sequels are not always a safe bet: huge bombs like Independence Day: Resurgence or Ghostbusters show that audiences aren’t always going to respond to a sequel just because they liked the original. And because sequels usually cost more than the original movies do (it’s just the nature of the beast, really), when they flop, they REALLY flop.
Hell, even sequels that perform well (like Captain America: Civil War or Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them) are rare to outperform the original, especially by a large margin. That’s just the state of franchise filmmaking as it stands: diminishing returns will ultimately occur on the sequels you decide to make. Having a sequel “breakout” and do massively better than the original is incredibly rare.
Which is of course the kind of preamble you only make when such a thing has in fact occurred, and in the case of this week, I couldn’t imagine a better movie to have received such an honor. Because, yes, John Wick: Chapter Two opened better than its original did back in 2014. SIGNIFICANTLY better, in fact.
The numbers (from Deadline) say it all: in its first three days of release, John Wick: Chapter Two has grossed a fantastic $30.4 million, which is over double what John Wick made in September of 2014. For what it’s worth, a bump of some sort was expected: John Wick is the classic example of a “breakout” hit, the kind of film that started out slow but gained buzz quickly, ultimately making a killing on the home video market. And when a film like that ends up getting a sequel, if the quality is still there, more people than ever will flock to it.
Still though, this is pretty wonderful news for the action sequel. The number of sequels that bested their predecessor’s opening by such a massive margin is incredibly tiny, with Pitch Perfect 2 being the only other clear breakout in the past decade. This bodes incredibly well for the future forecast of John Wick: Chapter 2 which, combined with strong word of mouth from both critics and audiences, has a legitimate chance of reaching $100 million domestically.
And here’s the thing that makes that fact so great — John Wick: Chapter 2 actually EARNS the upgrade. Often times movies make it big due entirely to branding, or good marketing. But in the case of John Wick: Chapter 2, it was the series quality that brought people in. It’s an original property that on paper should have been destined for the direct-to-DVD bin, but was well-liked enough to earn a spot on the table with all the other big franchises. It’s a well-made, original franchise that built up good-will, and didn’t just get it presented on a silver platter (unlike the number two film of the weekend, for instance.) And, in my mind, success for a film like that is very much worth celebrating.
John Wick: Chapter Two is available to watch in theaters right now. Check back later this week for a bigger piece on the film, and what makes it so damn great. In the meantime, make sure to see it for yourself — trust me, you won’t regret it.