John Wick 4: ‘Filmed for IMAX’ on Certified ARRI Mini LF With ALFA Glass
John Wick 4: ‘Filmed for IMAX’ on Certified ARRI Mini LF With ALFA Glass

John Wick 4: ‘Filmed for IMAX’ on Certified ARRI Mini LF With ALFA Lenses

2 mins read

The cinematography uniqueness of the 4th John Wick as compared to the rest of the chapters is the fact that it was ‘Filmed for IMAX’ on large format cameras and lenses. DP Dan Laustsen used the ARRI ALEXA LF and Mini LF and paired them with the newly announced ARRI Rental’s ALFA large format X2 anamorphic lenses.

John Wick 4: ARRI Mini LF and ALFA lens
John Wick 4: ARRI Mini LF and ALFA lens

John Wick 4

John Wick: Chapter 4 is a 2023 American action film directed by Chad Stahelski and shot by cinematographer Dan Laustsen. The movie is the sequel to John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) and the fourth installment in the John Wick franchise. Principal photography began on June 2021, on a $100 million budget, and took place in France, Germany, New York City, and Japan. Several French crew, including the Location Manager, described filming in Paris as “hell”; due to a two-week delay filming in Germany, Stahelski had less time to scout Paris and would improvise and change locations last minute. Filming took place at Luxembourg Gardens and the Church of St. Eustache. Filming concluded on October 2021. Watch the trailer below:

Shot on ARRI ALEXA LF and Mini LF

DP Dan Laustsen and Director Chad Stahelski have decided to shoot John Wick 4 on large format cinematography tools. One of the reasons is to distinguish this chapter from previous chapters and to allow optimal IMAX screening. The movie aims to be screened on the huge canvas, hence, certified IMAX cameras were utilized, as a part of the ‘Film for IMAX’ program. Laustsen shot with the ARRI ALEXA LF and cameras, while the Mini version was applied for certain action shots. For instance, a dedicated complex and impressive rig of Mini LF cameras was built to shoot car chases. Thus, the ARRI Mini LFs were utilized mainly for those sequences. As for the numerous fight scenes, those were captured by a group of ARRI LF cameras, paired with the new series of ALFA anamorphic lenses, developed by ARRI Rental.

BTS of John Wick 4. Credit: Lionsgate
BTS of John Wick 4. Credit: Lionsgate

2x Anamorphic dedicated for large format

If I’m not mistaken, John Wick 4 is the second feature film that utilized the new ALFA large format X2 anamorphic lenses from ARRI Rental, which claimed back then that the anamorphic large format should be considered a new format – “One that can make a bold and exciting contribution to visual storytelling”. BTW, the ALFAs were used before by the renowned cinematographer, Greig Fraser, on THE BATMAN (thank you — cinematographer Kenneth Ishii on the info). The ALFA lenses grant a fresh large-format anamorphic look which was born from the acclaimed Master Anamorphic glass. The ALFA lenses are characterized by a nice vignette of softness around the edges but a super-sharp center. Furthermore, in John Wick 4, most of the shoots were captured by narrow lenses, as the widest ALFA lens is 40mm. However, when paired on a large sensor, the ‘large format anamorphic look’ allow wide and beautiful shots. Indeed, this cinematography advantage was seen in most of the fight scenes. “It’s shot much wider and tighter. We took all the middle sizes out,” Laustsen says.

BTS of John Wick 4. Credit: Lionsgate
BTS of John Wick 4. Credit: Lionsgate

Explore the video below made by Frame Voyager, which demonstrates the large format ‘look & feel’ in John Wick 4, and how it contributes to the story:

Wrapping up

In my opinion, John Wick 4 is the first John Wick that must be watched in an IMAX theater. The film was shot on IMAX-certified cameras, and defined as a ‘Filmed for IMAX’ movie. Moreover, it will be interesting to explore the 2X large format look of the ALFA lenses — this is the first time we can see what those lenses can do, and how this ‘new’ (according to ARRI Rental) look helps to portray the artistic violence that characterized John Wick. Let’s see how an IMAX screen accepts this kind of imagery.

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Yossy Mendelovich

Yossy is a filmmaker who specializes mainly in action sports cinematography. Yossy also lectures about the art of independent filmmaking in leading educational institutes, academic programs, and festivals, and his independent films have garnered international awards and recognition.
Yossy is the founder of Y.M.Cinema Magazine.

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