By Travis Johnson

Holy cow, you guys, we’re getting a sequel to John Wick! The Australian trailer just landed in our inbox and we couldn’t be happier. Here’s the official synopsis:

In this next chapter following the 2014 hit, legendary hit man John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.

Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Common and Ruby Rose, John Wick: Chapter 2 hits Australian cinemas on May 11.

Ahem. Well, of course you know all that. John Wick: Chapter 2 is in theatrical release in the States already, earning rapturous reviews for its head-shooty goodness and earning the ire of Australian fans who, up until recently, didn’t know if it was getting a big screen release here at all. It’s been, frankly, a bit of a cluster.

Now, let’s get down to brass tacks. Obviously, it sucks that John Wick Part Deux has been delayed, and when it hits Australian cinemas it’ll be a full 85 days, give or take, after we would normally expect to see a high profile film like this. It’s especially galling given that we live in an age where we’ve become accustomed to having a worldwide communication network at our fingertips, filled with easily transferable and replicable digital media. It’s easy enough to run the numbers and surmise that JW2 might have already hit US home release by the time it hits the big screen here, and resolve to take a little VPN-masked trip to the Pirate Bay instead, ha ha, screw you studios, fight the power.

But that’s a shallow attitude to take. More than that, it’s self-defeating.

The real truth is that there are factors other than simple overseas release dates at play here including, but not limited to:

  • Available screen real estate – there are only so many screens to go around, and our screens host US, overseas and domestic product. Sometimes there is simply no room for everything all at once. Why did JW2 get moved back? Well, at a guess…
  • Projected profitability. The first John Wick is a great film, but it only made $2.8 million at the Australian box office, and really picked up steam on home release and via word of mouth. It’s possible those factors might drive up the box office take if it weren’t for…
  • Stiff competition. The positioning of a release date is a complicated thing, but one of the obvious factors is simply what is it up against? On February 16, JW2 would have gone head to head with The Great Wall, a movie that had already taken $200m at the Chinese BO, which is over twice John Wick‘s total worldwide take. JW2 is almost certainly a better movie than The Great Wall, but this is about numbers. The rest of the calendar is equally dicey – even in weeks where JW2 would not be opening against anything likely to steal its thunder (say Aril 6 or April 25), subsequent weeks would probably see a big drop off as the veritable flood of this year’s tentpole flicks starts to hit.

Now, you probably don’t care about any of that: you just want to see the movie you want to see within a reasonable timeframe, and that’s completely understandable. But here’s the real truth, and it’s a simple thing that is well worth getting your head around:

Despite the delay, you actually don’t want to see JW2 fail here, because the box office success of John Wick: Chapter 2 directly impacts whether we’ll even see a John Wick: Chapter 3 in cinematic release in Australia.

If you hit the comment threads on any article on this topic, you’ll see a whole bunch of people vowing to download JW2 as a way to “punish” the distributor or “teach them a lesson”. The thing is, a lesson would be taught, but probably not the one they’re thinking of. The takeaway for Australian distributors Entertainment One won’t be “Holy hell, we should have fought harder for a day-and-date release”, it’ll be “John Wick movies don’t do well in Australian theatres. Straight to DVD it is.”

John WickDoes anyone want that? We shouldn’t think so.

And thus we come to the concept of delayed gratification, which is not only useful in encouraging the promulgation of kick-ass action movies in which Keanu Reeves shoots a bunch of dudes in the head, it’s a hallmark of maturity and a strong foundation for success and psychological well-being – but let’s stay on point.

Delayed gratification is, in the shell of a nut, putting off something fun for the short term with the foreknowledge that it will result in better and more fun down the track. In this particular case, the best reason to wait and actually pay for JW2 in the cinema is that it lays the groundwork for more Wick wackness in the future. Indeed, the better it does, the more it encourages the distributor to give any further sequels a higher profile and a better, from the punter’s POV, release window. This is voting with your wallet, but in a way which is perhaps counterintuitive; if you love John Wick and you’re mad that JW2 has been delayed so much (again, 85 freakin’ days – it absolutely sucks) is not up stumps and head for the torrents, it’s actually to put your money on the barrelhead and send the message that this is the sort of movie you want to see, and you will pay to see it.

The inequities and complexities of distro aside, that’s the only message worth sending, because it’s the only one that will be heard. Don’t pay to see bad movies (but still, don’t pirate ’em), do pay to see good ones. You need to pay for the art you like, even if you have to wait a bit, even if it’s a pain in the arse, because it’s the only way to encourage the powers that be to make more of the stuff you like – in this case, more John Wick. Anything else, and you’re just shooting yourself in the foot.

And we’d much rather watch Keanu shoot dudes in the head.


  • Jim
    24 February 2017 at 12:30 am

    The film had a release date announced a YEAR beforehand. Stop defending the incompetence of the distributor.

    It was the 3rd highest market behind France and Germany and many of the countries lower on the list had the release worldwide. I will certainly be punishing them by not spending my dollars and going the swashbucklers cove route.

    Good riddance to Eone.

    • Grant
      24 February 2017 at 10:39 am

      It is a deliberate choice to schedule John Wick Chapter 2 where it is scheduled, not incompetence. If you don’t like that scheduling decision, and wish to express that dislike by not seeing the film honestly more power to you. But don’t pirate the thing: that’s just being a dick.

  • Matt
    24 February 2017 at 10:29 am

    I thought the movie was dated in April, not May.

  • Anthony
    24 February 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Well written article. And as an old codger, I agree with your synopsis. Those young kids don’t know how to wait for something anymore!

  • Scott H
    24 February 2017 at 9:23 pm

    84 days….they sure as hell do their best to encourage piracy…

  • Good Job
    Good Job
    1 March 2017 at 7:20 pm

    You’re 100% right, this is the movie I would like to see at the theatre. Although if I can’t see it within a reasonable time frame you’re inviting people to torrent. I especially liked your argument that regarding “straight to DVD it is”, I mean the theatre release date is basically the same as that of the DVD release date, so your argument is laughable. Further, anyone could use a VPN to buy it to stream from itunes or Amazon instead of waiting 85ish days if I were inclined to pay for it before the 85+ days.

    I must admit that I’m really going to enjoy reading all the articles in the coming months with the headlines “Australia biggest pirate nation still” etc. I mean, as a practicing intellectual property attorney I can have a pretty great laugh at the statistics and rubbish trying to be spun (similar to the above article most likely).

    I especially like the ‘obvious’ justification that “another movie is coming out in February about a week after it could have been released, we definitely need to postpone the release for 80+ days.” Just genius. I hope you didn’t get too much dribble on the keyboard while writing that. Just a heads up I have a birthday party I’m going to around the Australian release date, you might wanna hold off on releasing JW2 by another 2 months or so.

    But the article is right. How are you going to compete with a $200m BO in China? I mean my flights were already booked to fly to China and then watch JW2. Wait a second… this is completely irrelevant to a release in Australia… I mean come on; a cursory look at rotten tomatoes indicates that the pile of trash that is the Great Wall had a $35m BO in the states, whereas JW2 has around $75m BO in the states. This clearly indicates that a western market such as Australia is going to be more inclined to watch JW2 than the Great Wall.

    In any case, even if there were such “stiff competition” from a SINGLE movie to be released at a date AFTER the release of JW2 (not sure why that’s exactly relevant), why didn’t any other western jurisdiction have a delayed release? I wish I could contract the downs that the author had so I could be pleased about an 85+ day delayed release date. Top notch.

    I was ready to see this movie day 1, as were a lot of my friends, but without a legal avenue to see it – what do you think is going to happen?

  • Ian
    1 March 2017 at 10:55 pm

    So I guess we have to “deal with it”. Fuck that. Have been looking forward to seeing this movie in cinemas ever since it was announced. February was an awesome release window too as it was before Uni starts. would’ve been a great way to end the break. Now they decide to release it in cinemas when it comes out on DVD AND BLU-RAY?!?! Obviously eOne (the distributor) didn’t give a shit about getting the movie into Australian cinemas because they wanted to get the big Oscar bait movies out first, showing that they didn’t care about John Wick chapter 2. Then they decided to try and do damage control when fans started asking questions and giving complaints. Now I don’t even care about watching it in cinemas anymore since Blu-rays of the movie come out in the same month. Can’t wait to see articles about the piracy in Australia.

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