Lionsgate TV chairman Kevin Beggs confirmed The Continental will explore the John Wick universe 40 years before the first movie, focusing on a young Winston, the owner of the famous hotel for assassins. In an interview with Deadline, Beggs also talked about The Continental‘s unusual format, which will have only three 90-minutes episodes.
Beggs explained Lionsgate TV’s approach to the series as a way of expanding some of their most lucrative IPs, pointing out how any expansion should never become an obstacle for future movie installments. In the case of The Continental, Beggs says that there were a lot of different pitches before they could settle on the show’s plot. The winning pitch came from the creative team of the show Wayne, a YouTube Premium exclusive. As Beggs tells, the team’s pitch was immediately accepted as the ideal solution for expanding the John Wick universe. Beggs said:
“We [Lionsgate TV] were really blown away because it solved a bunch of problems and was super exciting, about a crumbling New York in the 1970s with a garbage strike that has piled up bags of garbage to the third floor of most brownstones, the mafia muscling in on that business which is why in The Sopranos he’s in the sanitation business, and other things that are really real as an interesting backdrop to explore the origins of The Continental which is famously within the movie franchise the assassin’s hotel in which you cannot kill anyone on the hotel grounds, but of course if you step one foot off you’re fair game, and that’s employed to great effect in many of the plots in the movies. Running all of that is Winston”
The news is in line with previous reports that placed The Continental as a prequel, focused on the origin stories of different characters from the John Wick franchise. It makes a lot of sense to focus on Winston, the owner of the hotel for assassins, played by Ian McShane in the movies. As The Continental is central for the assassins’ society in John Wick, Winston can be a powerful witness to the events that built the universe.
Beggs didn’t just reveal new plot details but also talked about the unique structure of The Continental. The show will be a limited series with three episodes as long as feature films, each of them revolving around a specific event. As Beggs explains it:
“What we’re exploring in The Continental is the young Winston and how it came to be that he and his team of confederates found their way into this hotel which we have met for the first time in the movie franchise 40 years later. That’s the arena. I won’t give away more than that, but Starz really leaned into this take also, and they have been great collaborators. And how we’ve approached this first season is as three essentially 90-minute events which you could construe as a limited series or a limited event series.”
Placing The Continental 40 years before the first John Wick means we won’t be seeing Keanu Reeves in front of the camera, but Beggs also said that the actor is in talks to executive produce. A John Wick series spin-off was first teased back in 2017, with information about the show being scarce since then. However, the new details mean the series is indeed moving forward.
Set to air on Starz, The Continental still doesn’t have a release date. As for the John Wick franchise, the fourth film is scheduled for release on May 27, 2022.