The fourth installment of the Keanu Reeves-led assassin series, “John Wick: Chapter 4,” made a record-breaking debut with $73.5 million at the box office, according to studio estimates on Sunday. The Lionsgate film, which sees Reeves reprising his role as the not-so-reluctant killer John Wick, exceeded both expectations and previous opening weekends in the R-rated franchise.

Since first launching in 2014 with “John Wick” ($14 million on its opening weekend), the Chad Stahelski-directed series has experienced steady growth in ticket sales with each sequel. The 2017 follow-up opened with $30.4 million, and the 2019 third chapter, “Parabellum,” debuted with $56.8 million.

“Chapter 4,” which runs for two hours and 49 minutes and cost at least $100 million to produce, is the largest film in the once-lean action series. Critics hailed it as a franchise high point, with a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, which attracted a 69% male audience, added $64 million overseas, making it Lionsgate’s biggest success of the pandemic era.

Joe Drake, chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said that although “Chapter 4” brings some finality to Reeves’ character, the actor has not completely ruled out continuing the series. A spin-off titled “Ballerina,” starring Ana de Armas and co-starring Reeves, has already been shot, and a miniseries called “The Continental,” featuring Mel Gibson, is set to air on Peacock.

The release of “John Wick: Chapter 4” adds to a strong start in 2023 for Hollywood, with ticket sales up 28% from last year, according to data firm Comscore.