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Is John Wick Chapter 4 Really The End? Here's What Director Chad Stahelski Thinks - Exclusive

In addition to the multiple trademark ways in which the lead character defeats or slaughters his enemies, "John Wick: Chapter 4" has something that its three predecessors in the series don't: a definitive ending. Having finally defeated the minions of the High Table, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) succumbs to his wounds and seemingly expires on the steps of Paris' Sacré-Cœur, finding peace at last.

Or has he? The next scene shows us Winston (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) standing over John's grave — although tellingly, we don't see John's body in a casket or anything like that. Is John really dead or not? "There's my opinion and there's the objective opinion," says director Chad Stahelski. "The objective opinion is, who died? John or John Wick? That's why we left at the dog looking up — what's he looking at? They don't know."

Stahelski admitted in Looper's exclusive interview that he doesn't mind audiences wondering whether or not John has really shuffled off this mortal coil. "The cool part is when you don't know," he explained. "I want a lot of things answered for me sometimes, but I also want a few things left open because there's hope. It's not just a solid ending ... in our minds, at least, John Wick died. Now, is John dead with him? Is the human dead or is just the myth of him dead? I don't know."

Whether John, the loving husband who wanted a quiet life with his wife and dog, or John Wick, the lethal, unstoppable assassin of yore, have perished together may not just be an existential question. The real answer may lie in the mechanics of cold, hard cash.

Box office may be the thing that resurrects John Wick

At press time, "John Wick: Chapter 4" was headed for a running domestic box office total of approximately $146 million in its third week of release. Although its momentum with moviegoers has slowed since its series-best opening in March, it could still end up being the franchise's highest-grossing entry yet. With Lionsgate Films head Joe Drake telling Deadline, "We're not ready to say goodbye to Keanu with this franchise," simple mathematics may bring John Wick back from the grave whether he's really dead or not.

In fact, it was at the behest of Lionsgate that director Chad Stahelski shot two versions of John's funeral scene, with one even more ambiguous about John's demise. But Stahelski added that the reaction from test audiences made it clear which one they preferred. "We knew right off the bat what the more powerful structure was," he said. "But I learned a lot as a director, testing both and seeing audience reactions and noticing how big of a change it actually was between test audiences."

As for whether he and Keanu Reeves — who will make a cameo in the upcoming "John Wick" spin-off "Ballerina" next year — are indeed willing to entertain the idea of a fifth chapter in their flagship series, Stahelski says it all depends on one factor.

"If someone asks you for more of what you love doing ... the biggest response becomes not just to do it, but to do it well so that I don't let down the expectations of people that want it," he explains. "So the real question to me is, do I believe I'm a good enough storyteller [and] director? Do I have something that won't let all of you down? Right now I don't. That could change tomorrow."

"John Wick: Chapter 4" is in theaters now.