John Wick: Chapter 4 faced down countless enemies to bring fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience at SXSW this year. The Texas film festival, which takes place yearly in Austin, designated Monday at 5pm for a “special screening” at the Paramount Theater and announced that a social media campaign would unveil the identity of the special film in question. Word quickly spread that the Keanu Reeves-led action thriller was premiering, leaving fans desperate to be among the first to catch a glimpse of the hotly anticipated sequel.
The world premiere of the movie took place in London earlier this week, and John Wick 4 received high praise both there and in its subsequence Berlin screening. SXSW now has the honor of becoming the first public screening in the USA, and the messaging for the festival generated a level of buzz worthy of Wick himself. Vandalized posters appeared all over high-traffic areas, along with digital projections, all warning that the Baba Yaga was imminent. Flyers and graffiti art encouraged passers-by to text a secret number for information, while groups with megaphones and picket signs and megaphones created crowds during SXSW peak hours.
John Wick: Chapter 4 Has Fans on Pins and Needles at SXSW
All of the John Wick 4 messaging and Babayaga propaganda led to Austin’s infamous Paramount Theater, where several of the festival’s screenings from Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves to The Long Game had already taken place. On the morning of March 13, an individual in an all-black suit was posted outside the Paramount from the hours of 10am to 3pm CT in order to hand out tickets to 20 lucky fans. Each potential winner had to show proof in the form of a text sent from Lionsgate’s digital team before they could receive the ticket of their dreams — those who were too late collected a consolation coin instead.
The text messages that led up to the secret John Wick 4 screening read as follows:
(Nationwide) Mon 3/6 @ 10AM PT
THE CONTRACT IS NOT YET IN EFFECT
(Nationwide) Tues 3/7 @ 10AM PT
THE CONTRACT WILL OPEN
(Austin Area) Sun 3/12 @ 9AM CT
The Babayaga is coming. Austin, be ready.
(Austin Area) Mon 3/13 @ 9AM CT
ATX, 20 tickets to a 5pm screening of JW4 are waiting with a contact at [30.270070, -97.742221]. You have 5 hours. First come, first serve.
The chosen few who entered the screening were greeted by none other than Keanu Reeves himself, who joined director Chad Stahelski to introduce the film and was met with wild applause. Whether or not John Wick manages to defeat the High Table is now known to the audience inside the Paramount, while action enthusiasts everywhere will have to find out for themselves on March 24.
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