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John Wick Directors Had To Fight Studio To Keep Dog's Death In Film

John Wick Directors Had To Fight Studio To Keep Dog's Death In Film

The directors of John Wick had to fight the studio to keep one of the opening scenes of the first film, as the plot involved the killing of Wick's dog.

As you probably know, all the action in John Wick was kicked off by the brutal killing of his pet pooch. Keanu Reeves' titular ex-hitman was subsequently forced to go on a (justified) murderous rampage to seek vengeance.

The scene in which John's dog is killed. Credit: Lionsgate
The scene in which John's dog is killed. Credit: Lionsgate

But it's emerged that the pivotal moment nearly got cut out, with the directors having to fight the studio to keep it in as they were worried audiences would find it too much.

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In a recent interview with comicbook.com, screenwriter Derek Kolstad said at one point the studio suggested dropping it completely, with directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch having to battle to keep it.

Kolstad said: "I think that they wanted to do it right, and so there were elements where [the studio said], 'Let's cut the dog out. Let's just focus on it as an assassin coming out of retirement.' That kind of thing."

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But, as we well know, the moment is important for both John Wick's character and his background - it tells the backstory of his wife, who gave the dog to him before she died, giving him a reason to live. It means the death of the dog was loaded with meaning.

The John Wick franchise began because John's dog was killed. Credit: Lionsgate
The John Wick franchise began because John's dog was killed. Credit: Lionsgate
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Kolstad continued: "But without that dog connection and without that underlying soul and the heartbeat of that character, and also the levity it brings the character and the levity it brings the humor, it was key.

"At certain points, Chad and Dave, they fought for it, they got it and they were right. They continued to fight for the way they see certain stories playing out elsewhere. They've done quite well with that. They're talented cats, man."

The studio were still unsure, but when the crew held a test screening of the shocking scene, the audience's reaction confirmed they'd made the right decision to keep it in.

Kolstad added: "But there was this pushback and pushback from all different angles until that first screening. We were watching the audience. As soon as the dog died, and seeing their reaction and then seeing the siege in house, we were like, yep, we were right."

Featured Image Credit: Lionsgate

Topics: TV and Film, john wick

Amelia Ward

Amelia is a journalist at LADbible. After studying journalism at Liverpool John Moores and Salford Uni (don't ask), she went into PR and then the world of music. After a few years working on festivals and events, she went back to her roots. In her spare time, Amelia likes music, Liverpool FC, and spending good, quality time with her cat, Paul. You can contact Amelia at [email protected]