Few actors have delivered as many box-office hits as Keanu Reeves has over the last 30 years, and few have suffered more as a result of Hollywood studios’ new era of franchise building and risk aversion.
The actor known for Bill & Ted, Point Break, Speed, and The Matrix trilogy stars in the upcoming John Wick, which, while filled with action, is yet another independent film.
In fact, Reeves hasn’t worked with a major studio since the big-budget martial-arts flick 47 Ronin bombed big time for Universal in 2013 (expensive re-shoots delayed it a year), and before that, he hadn’t worked with a studio since the 2008 Warner Brothers remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. As he explains in a new interview, he’s not all that happy about the studio abandonment.
"It sucks, but it’s just the way it is," Reeves tells Indiewire. “You can have positive and negative experiences, but what I like about studios are the resources and the worlds that they can create. Obviously, a lot of good filmmakers work on studio movies. Even when I was working on studio movies more often, I was always doing independent movies. So for me, that was just not happening, but I want to keep going, making things, and telling stories.”
The inability to land a studio film is not for lack of trying on Reeves’s part. As he told Yahoo Movies recently, he has been attempting for years to bring the Black List script Passengers to the big screen, and in 2013, The Weinstein Company — an indie, albeit a deep-pocketed one — picked up the rights. But the project has been plagued by the departures of actresses like Reese Witherspoon and Rachel McAdams, as well as financial problems. Weinstein eventually dropped Passengers, and earlier this year, Universal’s Focus Features failed to resurrect the film.
Reeves played down the budget problems with the film, saying that “it’s a whole long story,” and is still optimistic that he’ll get to make it.
"I’m hoping somehow, some way, I get to make that movie," he said. "It’s basically about a guy [on a] ship that’s traveling to another planet to homestead, and everyone’s kind of in suspended animation, but one guy wakes up too soon, halfway there, and he starts to go a little crazy, ends up waking someone else, a woman, Aurora, and hijinks ensue.”
That, of course, isn’t the only film that Reeves has been trying to make happen, and fans are much more familiar with — and hopeful for — a potential third Bill & Ted movie.
Sadly, that also faces budgeting issues in the new Hollywood.
"We’ve made attempts,” he says of the long-awaited threequel, echoing the recent words of co-star Alex Winter. “We’ve tried to have less shots of the cosmos ripping apart. Just take a couple of them out, guys! Do we need four of them? Maybe it’s just one!”