The box office has a new king and his name is John Wick. The third installment of the hyper violent Keanu Reeves franchise has taken the top spot at the North American box office and ended the three-week reign of Avengers: Endgame.

Studios on Sunday say John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum has grossed an estimated US$57 million (NZ$87.6m) in its opening weekend. Not only did it far exceed expectations, it's a franchise best that nearly doubled the opening of the second film, which itself doubled the opening of the first film from 2014.

The audience, in other words, is growing exponentially for this series about a talented assassin who never seems to get a break. This time, there's a $14 million price tag on his head.

Men made up the majority (63 of the John Wick 3 opening weekend crowd. Overall audiences gave the film a rare A+ CinemaScore, indicating that word-of-mouth will be strong in subsequent weekends. According to Comscore's PostTrak audience survey, 70% said they would "definitely recommend" to their friends and 21% said they would see it again in theaters.


"This is the best reviewed film of the series so far," said Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, in a statement. "We believe word-of-mouth will continue to drive strong business for the film all over the world."

Internationally John Wick 3 earned US$35.2 million (NZ$54m) from 66 territories.

Avengers: Endgame slid to second place in its fourth weekend with $29.4 million. Domestically, where the film has grossed $711 million, it's now second only to Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($937 million) and globally, with $2.6 billion, it's still second to Avatar ($2.8 billion).

Globally, Avengers: Endgame is second only to Avatar (2009) at the box office. Photo / supplied
Globally, Avengers: Endgame is second only to Avatar (2009) at the box office. Photo / supplied

In its second weekend, Pokémon Detective Pikachu also continued to do well, placing third with $24.8 million. But with the high-performing trifecta of John Wick, the Avengers and Pikachu, there weren't very many moviegoers left over for the less flashy newcomers like A Dog's Journey and The Sun Is Also a Star.

"The marketplace was so dominated by John Wick," said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. "It's tough when one movie over performs by this kind of magnitude."