The third “John Wick” movie arrived to stronger-than-expected ticket sales, returning Keanu Reeves to the top of the box-office chart for the first time in 11 years and giving Lionsgate a much-needed shot in the arm.
“John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” which finds the title’s super-assassin (Reeves) on the run from other contract killers, collected about $57 million at theaters in the United States and Canada over the weekend, according to Comscore.
The R-rated Lionsgate series has grown remarkably more powerful with each installment: “John Wick: Chapter 2” had $30 million in initial ticket sales in 2017, improving on the $15 million that “John Wick” collected over its first three days in 2014.
That kind of audience expansion — extremely rare — is a dream result for Lionsgate, which has been struggling to turn around its movie operation, in part because Netflix has started to crank out the type of low- and mid-budget films in which Lionsgate has long specialized.
Why go to theaters to see these diversions when Netflix is pumping them into your living room?
Last year, Lionsgate released 19 movies through various labels and took in a total of $379 million in North America, its worst showing since 2007. Lionsgate’s most recent releases, “Hellboy” and “Long Shot,” were both bombs.
Tyler Perry delivered a hit in March with “A Madea Family Funeral,” but it was the last film that Mr. Perry intends to supply to Lionsgate, ending a 14-year run. He has a new alliance with Paramount.
Lionsgate said on Sunday that “John Wick: Chapter 3” collected an additional $35 million in partial release overseas. The film received strong reviews from most critics.
David Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a movie consultancy, said the results put the series “on outstanding footing going forward” and said it was now “an elite action thriller franchise.”
“John Wick: Chapter 3,” which stars Halle Berry in a supporting role, cost an estimated $75 million to make and roughly $40 million to market. The last time Reeves had a No. 1 opening was in 2008 with “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”
Two other new wide-release movies sputtered in their debuts. (See: the Netflix effect.)
“A Dog’s Journey,” an Amblin sequel that was released by Universal, collected $8 million in North America, or about 56 percent less than “A Dog’s Purpose” had in its first weekend in 2017.
“A Dog’s Purpose” was a surprise hit, taking in a total of $205 million and spawning a boomlet in soft-edged dog movies. (Another one, “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” will arrive from Disney in August.)
In a wipeout, “The Sun Is Also a Star,” a low-budget romantic drama starring Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton, was booked into more than 2,000 theaters by Warner Bros. and only managed $2 million in ticket sales.