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Will franchise films like “John Wick” get people back in theaters?

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Keanu Reeves, a man with long black hair and a beard wears a black suit, with a white shirt and black and white striped tie. He stands in front of a promotional for his film "John Wick: Chapter 4."

March franchise film releases like "John Wick: Chapter 4," starring Keanu Reeves, may help draw people back to theaters. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

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If you pass a movie marquee in your travels today, you’re likely to see a lot of roman numerals on it. There have been at least three big sequels released this month: There’s “Scream VI,” “Creed III,” then Fridya marks the release of “John Wick: Chapter 4” — an action movie starring Keanu Reeves.

These are big franchises and could act as a kind of barometer as to whether people will continue to go to theaters in the months ahead.

A lot of us have seen all of at least one action movie franchise. Maybe you got invested in the plight of Sarah Connor in “Terminator” or are just plain hooked on the cars in “Fast & Furious.” The franchise John Notarianni shows up for is “John Wick.”

“It’s almost embarrassing to talk about because they are so absurdly violent,” he said. “But at the same time, the action sequences are so intense — there’s like almost something just beautiful about the movement in it.”

Notarianni is planning to see “John Wick: Chapter 4” Friday night in Portland, Oregon, where he lives. 

These kinds of big releases with known characters help get people out in March, when they might otherwise hunker down at home. 

“Theater owners would certainly like to keep people in the habit of going to movie theaters,” said Charles Schreger, a professor of business at NYU and Fordham. 

So, having Kenau back in theaters is nice, but the person theater owners really want back is the franchise fan like John Notarianni. 

Kathleen Lyon operates two movie theaters in Baltimore. “We need to sell tickets, and we need to sell popcorn, and we need to have birthday parties, and we need all that stuff to happen, you know, to run a business,” she said.

One of Lyon’s theaters, the Senator, shows a lot of big releases and she said its ticket sales are back to pre-pandemic levels. Her other theater, the Charles, shows more arthouse fare and she said those sales are not back in the same way.

So maybe there should be a sequel to “Everything Everywhere All at Once” with a guest appearance from Sarah Connor? I’d give it a shot. 

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