Keanu Reeves is back to crushing skulls and making movie theater owners scream with adoration, as the star closed CinemaCon with a first look at ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’. Appearing during the Lionsgate presentation at the annual exhibition trade show, Reeves was greeted with lusty applause and chants of “You’re the man!” from attendees.
The next installment once again teams Reeves with stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski. Lionsgate has high hopes for ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’, considering each chapter in the franchise has outgrossed its predecessor. The original ‘John Wick’ grossed $86 million worldwide in 2014 followed by $171.5 million for ‘John Wick: Chapter ‘ in 2017 and $327 million for ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ in 2019.
In the footage screened, Wick is on his perpetual revenge tour — this time taking on a decidedly lone ninja vibe — seen punching a wooden post to the point of his knuckles bleeding as co-star Laurence Fishburne acts as his hype man.
“I want you to find peace, John,” an off-screen voice booms as a montage of Reeves slaying his enemies plays, “but the only path this leads to is death.”
In the heart-pounding final moments of the trailer, Reeves takes on two baddies in the lobby of an art gallery — brutalizing them with nunchucks in a relentless, face-busting, merry-go-round motion.
Joining Reeves in ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ are Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Donnie Yen, Shamier Anderson, Bill Skarsgård, Hiroyuki Sanada, Scott Adkins and Clancy Brown. Franchise mainstay Ian McShane is back as Winston, the manager of the Continental Hotel. One person not returning to the franchise is Halle Berry, who debuted as Sofia in “Chapter 3.”
“Sofia’s not in the next ‘John Wick’ movie,” Berry told IGN earlier this year, although the character might be getting her own spinoff film. “There could possibly be a Sofia … her own movie. So she might not be in ‘John Wick,’ but she might be doing her own thingy-thingy.”
Stahelski revealed before he started filming ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ that he was anxious about how to top the insane stunts of “Chapter 3,” which included one action set piece featuring samurais on horseback.
“There’s been a couple days where I’ve decided to do number four and I’ve woken up in a cold sweat going, ‘Horses! How do I beat horses?’ I have no fucking idea to tell you the truth,” Stahelski told Collider. “I have a lot of really cool ideas for the next one that I think are different and shocking and fun and unique. How to do them, I have no fuckin’ idea right now. I’m still figuring it out.”
‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ hits theaters on May 23, 2023.
Actors’ strike ends: The SAG-AFTRA deal, what happened, and what’s next
In July, Hollywood’s actors joined writers on picket lines for the first time in 63 years. After nearly four months, the actors’ strike ended after SAG-AFTRA’s leadership approved a tentative deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Nov. 8.
Members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists who work under the union’s film and TV contract with companies that belong to the AMPTP, a group that represents all the major producers in Hollywood. Members of the Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2 but reached a tentative deal with the AMPTP on Sept. 24.
While the writers came to a tentative agreement with the studios in late September and ratified a deal in October, SAG-AFTRA remained on strike. SAG-AFTRA resumed talks with the studios but the strike dragged on as the two sides negotiated.
The negotiating committee of the performers’ union approved a tentative deal on Nov. 8. It will still need to be ratified by the members. Additionally, the actors who work under SAG-AFTRA’s interactive contract, including those who provide voice work for video games, are considering a second SAG-AFTRA strike.
How did the actors’ strike happen? SAG-AFTRA, a 160,000-member performers union, voted in favor of a strike authorization by 98% before negotiations began with the studios in June. After they couldn’t reach an agreement by the contract expiration on June 30, they extended talks for two weeks until July 12. Then, a federal mediator was brought in before the extension ended with no new contract.
On July 13, the SAG-AFTRA board voted to approve the strike. Actors joined the picket lines July 14. Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA and former star of “The Nanny,” delivered a fiery speech when the union announced its strike plans.
SAG-AFTRA proposed that a third-party company measure the success of shows and that residual payments be tied to how they perform. AMPTP companies rejected that idea, arguing that many streaming platforms are not yet profitable. Other sticking points were over self-taped auditions, contributions to the union’s health and pension plan and a pay increase.
Artificial intelligence also emerged as a major issue in negotiations.
Some high-profile projects already in production, including “Deadpool 3” with Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman and “Gladiator 2,” starring Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal and Denzel Washington, have shut down because of the strike.
SAG-AFTRA has granted waivers to some independent films and television shows. The projects allowed to continue filming are not affiliated with the major studios and streaming giants that are members of the AMPTP.
Projects with big names attached, including Mel Gibson, Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Paul Rudd and Jenna Ortega, are among those allowed to continue filming.
The work stoppage does not apply to performers who work under other contracts, such as actors who work on commercials, soap operas and talk shows. Broadcasters who are in the union also are not affected. Actors (and writers) cannot attend promotional events.
SAG-AFTRA specifies that actors cannot act, sing, dance, perform stunts, pilot on-camera aircraft, puppeteer or do performance capture and motion capture work in front of the camera. Impacted events include San Diego Comic-Con and the London premiere of “Oppenheimer.”
MJ biopic director ‘blown away’ by Jaafar Jackson’s resemblance to late uncle
Director Antoine Fuqua is teasing ‘Michael’, the Michael Jackson biopic he is set to work on and says he’s “blown” away by the “uncanny” resemblance between the lead star and his real-life uncle, the King of Pop.
Jaafar Jackson, who is the son of Michael’s brother Jermaine Jackson, will play the iconic singer in the Lionsgate biopic.
“It’s uncanny how much he’s like Michael,” Fuqua told EW in a recent interview. “Sounds like him, dances like him, sings. It’s really uncanny. Graham King, who is a fantastic producer, found him, and introduced him to me, and I was blown away.”
Although the film is on hold due to the writers and actors strike, Fuqua said the biopic will retell Michael’s story “as we know it” and would tackle some of the controversies the singer was involved in during his lifetime.
“Just to tell the facts as we know it, about the artist, about the man, about the human being. You know, the good, bad, and the ugly,” Fuqua added.
‘Michael’ will be directed by Fuqua with a script from John Logan. Graham King is set as a producer, who was behind the Freddy Mercury Queen story of Bohemian Rhapsody. GK Films will produce alongside the co-executors of Jackson’s estate, John Branca and John McClain.
#QuickReview: Is ‘Justice League: Warworld’ worth a watch?
One thing longtime fans of DC have come to count on is that while the company spent the last ten years floundering around in a pool of confusion, their animated films rarely, if ever, miss. Justice League Warworld continues to lend credence to this argument, though not in a particularly new, unique, or memorable way.
Here’s the premise: The big three (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) are scattered across time by some phenomenon they do not understand. They have no memories of who they are or how they got there, but they know they have to consistently ‘keep moving’.
Wonder Woman visits a wild western town in which a distinct DC anti-hero rules with an iron fist. Batman is stuck in a prehistoric world, complete with dinosaurs and warlords and warrior women. And then, the big three reunite at the end for what starts as a ‘mystery-in-a-diner’ noir-esque story that sort of explains what’s been happening but does nothing with that revelation.
The big three reunite at the end for what starts as a ‘mystery-in-a-diner’ noir-esque story that sort of explains what’s been happening but does nothing with that revelation.
But there’s a lot to root for in this film: the voice cast is splendid, with Jensen Ackles playing Batman, Darren Criss as Superman, Stana Katic as Wonder Woman, Troy Baker as Jonah Hex, and so on. Somehow Ackles has avoided the Conroy comparisons (probably because he started voicing Batman before Conroy passed) so far, and in a good way.
The art style stays within the confines of the Tomorrowverse comfortably, and the animation looks great and fluid. The action sequences leave quite a bit to be desired, though, with Batman going through the motions and forgetting what makes him such a much-revered hand-to-hand fighter. The heroes also act out of character a number of times, Batman leaving someone who just freed him to die, and Superman being quite thick-headed and missing several obvious clues.
The heroes also act out of character a number of times, Batman leaving someone who just freed him to die, and Superman being quite thick-headed and missing several obvious clues.
Still, the biggest letdown is the fact that the movie ends, but there’s no resolution. It rather spends the climax setting up a sequel, which may be the just-announced Crisis on Infinite Earths. The movie skimps on the emotional satisfaction that comes with a perfectly-landed climax and instead jerks the audience away on the ‘something-bigger-approaches’ segue. It feels as though the ending was changed just before it left the cutting room. Still, ‘Justice League: Warworld’ is worth a watch.