It would appear that the prequel event series to John Wick has snagged filmmaker Albert Hughes to direct two episodes of the three part series for Lionsgate and Starz. The Continental was originally planned as a full spin-off series from the Wick movies when it was discussed in detail back in April, but it has now been redeveloped into a three night event that will have 90 minute episodes, all rumored to have an individual budget of over $20 million. Although there will be no appearance by Keanu Reeves in the prequel, there is still plenty for fans of the series to look forward to.
The spin-off is set four decades before John Wick movies and centers on a younger version of the character played by Ian McShane in the film series, who is just in the process of setting up as a hotelier with a desire to give hit men somewhere to find sanctuary in 1970s New York. While we have seen what happens in the said hotel around the time of John Wick, the story of how it was created is one that has some intriguing potential.
The John Wick franchise is one of Lionsgate's biggest IPs and for a company with only a handful of big money properties to their name it is not hard to see why they intend to string out a whole universe based around Keanu Reeve's popular hitman and the violent world he inhabits. The first three movies, which became popular mostly via word of mouth, have grossed over $600 million between them, with John Wick 4 arriving May 2022, and a fifth film ready to go immediately after.
It is unclear when the new series will air in relation to the movie sequels, but it could be used to fill the gap between the fourth and fifth movies, with the latter obviously not arriving for some time yet. Many of the movie's creative team are on board the series, including screenwriter Derek Kolstad and director Chad Stahelski executively producing after originally being slated to direct when a full series was on the cards. Hughes will be directing the first and third installments, but there has been no word yet on who will be taking the helm for the central piece.
Albert Hughes, the brother of Allen Hughes with whom he co-directed the likes of Menace II Society and Dead Presidents, were responsible for some really iconic pieces of 90s urban dramas and were seen as the most high profile Black directors of the time. Despite their success together, they eventually moved on to working on separate projects, with Albert Hughes' more recent efforts working on an episode of Ethan Hawke's Western series, The Good Lord Bird, and the prehistoric-set Alpha, both of which were critically well received.
When Lionsgate chairman Kevin Beggs discussed the series with Deadline back in April, he explained the brief pitch for the show, saying " ...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..."
While we await more details on the casting and progression of the series, we know that we will see Keanu Reeves back as Wick in his fourth outing on May 27, 2022. This news comes from The Hollywood Reporter.