As fourth and fifth film installments in the beloved action franchise “John Wick” head our way, details are finally starting to emerge about the prequel spinoff series first announced back in 2017. Known as “The Continental,” the show will be a prequel series likely centered on a young Winston, the character played by Ian McShane in the movies. Lionsgate TV boss Kevin Beggs recently spoke with Deadline about plans for the series, and what it might look like even without Keanu Reeves in a starring role. Starz is currently set to host the show.
“We took a lot of pitches, and then the creative team from this obscure little show called Wayne that was on YouTube came to us with their take,” Beggs said. “We 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.”
Beggs said the spinoff series could provide 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, who is played by Ian McShane [in the movies].”
McShane has confirmed he won’t be starring in the series, but could provide voiceover.
“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,” Beggs said. “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.”
Beggs said that “Keanu is likely executive-producing. Because we’re way back in time, way back pre-John Wick and even pre-young John Wick, that character is not finding his way into the universe.”
It was last reported that Starz wouldn’t air “The Continental” until after the fourth “John Wick” movie which, due to the pandemic, isn’t set to release until May 27, 2022.
Beggs said the franchise has “got such great mythology and such interesting style, and the gun-fu approach of these incredibly poetic stunt esthetics is just out of this world, which is why the movie with Keanu Reeves — who is so amazing in everything he does but particularly compelling as John Wick in our mind — it just cries out to be something in TV. Just like the Marvel Universe and the DC Universe from a TV perspective are incredible opportunities, and that is our superhero franchise in the family.”