Everything We Know

Everything We Know About John Wick TV Series The Continental

What will it be about? How will it relate to the movies? And will Keanu Reeves appear? We've got answers.

by | April 26, 2019 | Comments

(Photo by © Summit Entertainment)

The creators of John Wick never expected to have a franchise. The first film was designed to be the directorial debut of stunt and second unit directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. But audiences loved Keanu Reeves’ smooth assassin character and the world he inhabits. Now John Wick 4 and 5 are in the works, and Starz is developing a whole TV series set in the John Wick world too.

The new series is called The Continental, named after the hotel for assassins featured in the films. Rules at the Continental stipulate that no “work” can be done on Continental grounds (no killing!). John Wick (Reeves) broke that rule in Chapter 2 by killing the man who forced him back into the life, while Chapter 3 saw John on the run and New York Continental manager Winston (Ian McShane) facing repercussions for letting him go.

Plans for The Continental have evolved since Starz first announced the series in 2018. In a new interview with Deadline, Lionsgate Television Chairman Kevin Beggs spoke about the studio’s plans, including the John Wick TV series. Here’s everything we know about The Continental so far.

[Updated April 26, 2021]


1. THE CONTINENTAL WILL BE ABOUT YOUNG WINSTON

(Photo by © Summit Entertainment)

Early plans for The Continental would have introduced a new assassin in the world of the hotel. Stahelski originally told Rotten Tomatoes, “There’s a whole new cast coming aboard for that and that hasn’t been seen before.” That remains true, but at least one actor will play young Winston.

“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,” Beggs told Deadline. “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.”


2. IT WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE ’70S

(Photo by David Lee/©Summit Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Given McShane was already 72 in 2014’s John Wick, his early years will set The Continental back in time. Stahelski originally said the series would visit Continentals in multiple cities, but Beggs confirms it is a New York period piece.

© Summit Entertainment“[The Continental is] 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. “And other things that are really real as an interesting backdrop to explore the origins of The Continental.”


3. THE FIRST SEASON IS THREE MOVIES

Early plans were for an eight-episode season with hour long episodes. Beggs now says the first seasons will be more like mini event movies.

“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


4. KEANU REEVES IS NO LONGER SET TO APPEAR

Reeves was always listed as an executive producer of The Continental. In the beginning, Starz President of Programming Carmi Zlotnick teased possible appearances by John Wick himself. The period piece element of the new take rules that out.

“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,” Beggs said. “We are in the John Wick universe, but it’s way back in time. Think about the Game of Thrones prequels before you know any of the players, but you do know the world.”


5. REEVES AND STAHELSKI ARE STILL INVOLVED

Reeves remains an executive producer, as does Stahelski. Stahelski had hoped to direct the Continental pilot, but that, too, seems no longer to be the case, with two more sequels on the way.

“Keanu and Chad have read every draft and been enthusiastic supporters of expanding this universe in a meaningful way,” Beggs said. “At this point he’s pretty busy making his movies which are very important to us.”


6. EXPECT AT LEAST THREE SEASONS OF STORY

John Wick has already generated at least five films, and Stahelski was confident he and Leitch had ideas for multiple seasons on Starz too.

“I think we haven’t even touched on The Continental,” Stahelski said. “That would be my comment on that. I think we have at least three seasons of TV.”

Hopefully, that still holds true for a “young Winston” series.


7. THE IDEA ONLY BEGAN AFTER JOHN WICK 2

(Photo by David Lee/©Summit Entertainment)

While the creators were focused on making movies for a while, after the success of John Wick: Chapter 2, Lionsgate and Starz presented the possibility to expand the franchise into the television realm as well.

“The studio approached us after the second movie did fairly well that they said they were interested in pursuing something like that, which we were happy to oblige,” Stahelski confirmed.

The world of The Continental seems so deep, you’d think they had a rich history mapped out before going into the films. It actually didn’t even start to ramp up until the sequel.

“When we finished the first one, we thought we’d never work again,” Stahelski said. “We were looking for day jobs. Then when we were asked to do the second one, that’s when we put the thinking caps on. We did what we wanted to and what we had in mind for the first movie. It wasn’t until developing the second film that all the thought really went into it.”


8. THANK LIONSGATE FOR ACQUIRING STARZ

(Photo by © Summit Entertainment)

Lionsgate paid $4.4 billion for the cable network in a sale completed in December 2016. A series based on the Lionsgate film franchise is an example of synergy between the companies, and Starz couldn’t be happier.

“I think it’s important to note that that comes through our relationship with Lionsgate,” Zlotnick said in 2018. “It continues a franchise that has already generated two hit films which have grossed nearly $300 million at the worldwide box office.”


9. THE CONTINENTAL RETAINS THE JOHN WICK CREATIVE TEAM

Chris Collins was originally set to  write and run The Continental series for Starz, and Beggs mentioned taking new pitches in the Deadline interview. Executive producers from the John Wick films remain involved beyond Reeves and Stahelski. The films’ producer Basil Iwanyk and screenwriter Derek Kolstad are both executive producers.


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