Movie Reviews

John Wick Ignoring This Studio Criticism Saved Keanu Reeves' $1 Billion Movie Franchise From Disaster

Summary

  • Leitch’s decision to keep the pivotal dog death scene in John Wick paid off, ensuring the franchise’s success.
  • The emotional depth of the dog’s death added to the narrative and elevated John Wick beyond a typical revenge plot.
  • John Wick’s artistic integrity and refusal to bow to external pressure contributed significantly to the franchise’s triumph.



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Not taking studio criticism too seriously worked wonders for John Wick and prevented the $1 billion Keanu Reeves movie franchise from becoming a complete disaster. Since its inception in 2014, the John Wick franchise has significantly evolved and even expanded its roots in television. While only the main John Wick movies have been the primary contributors to the franchise’s commercial success, the John Wick universe holds immense potential and promises to deliver new worthy successors, like Ballerina, in the future.


Many factors and decisions may have contributed to the John Wick movies’ success, but if it wasn’t for one creative choice, the film franchise’s fate would have been completely different. This creative choice came when the studio was not content with one narrative direction in the first John Wick movie. Fortunately, instead of agreeing with the studio’s opinions, the people behind John Wick stuck to their vision.

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If The Dog Doesn’t Die, John Wick Doesn’t Become A $1 Billion Movie Franchise

The Tragic Death Was An Essential Trigger For John Wick’s Journey

Keanu Reeves' John Wick and his dog


John Wick’s dog’s death serves as an effective catalyst for the events of the entire franchise. However, before the first John Wick movie hit the theaters and became a smash hit, the puppy’s tragic death was not received too well by studio executives. As David Leitch recalled (via CineFix – IGN Movies and TV), many people from the studio and his film friends’ circle warned him not to kill the puppy in the film. “You can’t kill the dog. It’ll curse the movie,” they said. However, Leitch refused to listen to anyone and kept the scene in the film because he was well aware of what it was trying to achieve through the heartbreaking story development.

While many alternate narrative avenues in the first
John Wick
movie could have served as triggers that force the titular character out of his retirement, would any of them be as effective and cathartic as the dog’s death?


In retrospect, it is hard not to wonder whether the John Wick franchise would still be worth a billion dollars if it wasn’t for that initial moment. While many alternate narrative avenues in the first John Wick movie could have served as triggers that force the titular character out of his retirement, would any of them be as effective and cathartic as the dog’s death? Delving into the what-ifs and what-nots can never be productive, but the John Wick franchise’s future might have been doomed if David Leitch had followed other people’s advice and removed the crucial scene.

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Why The Death Of John Wick’s Dog Is So Vital For Keanu Reeves’ Character

The Dog Symbolizes His Humanity


As the first John Wick movie reveals, the puppy was a gift from the titular character’s late wife. Although he was struggling to grapple with the grief of his wife’s demise, John Wick found light and solace in the puppy’s presence. In his darkest days, the puppy grounded him by becoming a symbol of his love and connection with his wife. Owing to this, when Iosef and his men break into John Wick’s home and kill his puppy, the character is left with nothing to lose. Iosef does not even let John Wick retain the last bits of his humanity by killing his dog, leaving Keanue Reeves’ character with no choice but to unleash his fury.

By portraying his dog’s death, the film not only brings more layers to John Wick’s grief for his wife but also highlights how the character was never morally corrupt.


While it is understandable why many asked David Leitch not to portray the puppy’s sad demise, no other story development would likely have been as emotionally wrecking for John Wick. Like most action movies with revenge plots, John Wick could have taken the well-trodden path of portraying one of his family members’ deaths as a trigger for his vengeance plan. However, that would have made the film’s story a little too conventional.

By portraying his dog’s death, the film not only brings more layers to John Wick’s grief for his wife but also highlights how the character was never morally corrupt. Unlike most of his enemies, he was never driven by a hunger to achieve power or money. It was his tragic circumstances that forced him to become a tragic hero who channels his frustrations and pain with his quest for radical justice and revenge.


John Wick’s “Kill The Dog” Risk Makes The Franchise’s Huge Success Even Sweeter

It Shows The Movie Succeeded On Its Own Terms

The fact that David Leitch did not allow studio interference and trusted his team’s creative voice makes John Wick‘s achievements even more remarkable. If he had even considered listening to external opinions about the movie’s creative choices, the John Wick franchise probably would not have been even half as scalable as it is today. Leitch’s steadfast commitment to maintaining the film’s artistic integrity instead of succumbing to the pressures of studio rules highlights how he and others directly involved in the film’s production deserve credit for the John Wick franchise’s commercial success and critical acclaim.


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