John Wick: Chapter 4 Is Now The Highest Grossing R-Rated Movie Since Bad Boys For Life

In yet another sign that the box office recovery in the aftermath of the quarantine era of the pandemic is on the right track, "John Wick: Chapter 4" continued to do well this past weekend, despite some heavier-than-anticipated competition from "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves." While the fantasy flick from Paramount took the top spot, Keanu Reeves' fourth go-around as the deadly assassin added another $28.2 million in second place. That was enough to give it a pretty important place in post-pandemic Hollywood history.

With $244.8 million to its name to date, "John Wick: Chapter 4" is now the highest-grossing R-rated movie since the pandemic began. 2020's "Bad Boys for Life" earned $426.5 million globally in 2020, and its $206.3 million domestic haul was easily the best of a very bad year. And that's undoubtedly why "Bad Boys 4" is still happening. In any event, both 2021 and 2022 failed to produce a larger R-rated hit, and nothing even really came close. "Smile" did, however, do exceptionally well with $217 million last year against a $17 million budget. Relativity aside, Lionsgate gets to put this feather in its cap.

The only thing to take into consideration is that director Chad Stahelski's latest "John Wick" film carries an inflated $100 million budget. So it still needs to make quite a bit more to become profitable. And it did drop nearly 62% in its second weekend, thanks to heavy competition. Even still, it should have no problem clearly $300 million in the next week or two, which is very good news.

R-rated movies are back

2022 was absolutely a bounce back year for movie theaters, with more than just superheroes doing their part to put meat in seats. "Top Gun: Maverick" and "Avatar: The Way of Water" went a long way in selling tickets to the masses. Yet, R-rated blockbuster hits were sorely lacking over the last couple of years. Even James Gunn's "The Suicide Squad" disappointed in 2021 with a mere $168 million haul, though that movie was kneecapped by Covid and a simultaneous HBO Max release. Still, for theaters that needed to sell tickets, the result was the same.

Thanks to "John Wick: Chapter 4" though, it's clear that R-rated movies can absolutely still deliver blockbuster numbers. Pre-pandemic, we were seeing gigantic breakout R-rated hits, such as "Deadpool" ($782 million), "Joker" ($1 billion), and Stephen King's "It" ($701 million), just to name a few. The fact that an action franchise has managed to get back to blockbuster highs in a post-pandemic world sends a signal to Hollywood at large that audiences will still show up for these sorts of films en masse under the right circumstances. It opens up the playbook even more as studios look to figure out what the new normal looks like in the streaming-dominated future. Theaters are still crucial, and this is highly encouraging for that sector of the business.