John Wick 3: Parabellum director Chad Stahelski says that the test screening reactions really didn't help him out too much. Test screenings can be a tricky situation for any movie. Audiences are treated to cuts that are often missing visual effects and other factors. They then offer their thoughts on what they saw. Sometimes, the audience provides excellent notes and greatly helps the project move forward. However, sometimes the test screenings don't generate too much help in the creative process.
Chad Stahelski offers a pretty unique view into the test screening process and how he prefers to deal with them. John Wick 3 opens in May, so there had to be some tests to make sure that they were on the right track, which is something that they've done with all three movies now. As it turns out, each movie has received the same notes from test audiences. Stahelski explains.
"Pacing is always a really true note. There's a lot of contradictory (notes). What's the best thing you like about John Wick 3? We love the action! We love the action! What's the (worst)? Well, there's just a lot of action, a lot of action. OK, so your best note and your worst note are the same thing? It's a tricky one to handle. We love your action, but we want you to change it. But if you change it, we may hate it. OK, so you love all the action? Oh it's the best action packed movie I've ever seen! But there's too much. OK, what do you want to cut? I don't know. Good luck!"
The John Wick franchise is known for its intense action sequences, which some audiences love and others hate. So, Chad Stahelski had to figure out a balance between the two, and that isn't always an easy thing to do. The director often finds himself wondering if he should have more action in for the hardcore fans or less for the people who aren't normally into so much action. In the end, the director, and nearly all directors, want the widest audience possible to enjoy the project.
So, how does Chad Stahelski go about figuring out what audiences are going to want? The director likes to look at the test screening process in two distinct parts, which is what he did with John Wick 3. The first of this process involves sitting in the theater with an audience to observe real-time reactions. The second part of the process involves the notes that the audience provides. In the end, Stahelski likes to take a blend from the two, but says that he takes the second part of the process with a grain of salt.
The John Wick 3 trailer was released earlier this week and it already looks like it has a lot more action than the previous two installments. Chad Stahelski confirmed this and says that the sequel is "20% more movie" than the previous installment because there are more action scenes and more characters. If you were wondering which notes that Stahelski took to heart, it would have to be that the audiences loved the action. You can check out the rest of the interview with Chad Stahelski over at Collider.