Lionsgate TV chairman Kevin Beggs told Deadline that the The Continental series--currently attached to cable network Starz—will take place 40 years before the events of the first movie, centered around a young Winston, the owner of the show's namesake hotel of assassins.
The Continental will have just three 90-minute episodes. and is considered to be a way for Lionsgate to expand into the John Wick universe without getting in the way of future potential movie installments.
"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, 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, who is played by Ian McShane (in the movies).”
McShane previously confirmed that he won’t appear in The Continental but could do voice-over work.
“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.”
When The Continental was first announced by Starz in 2018, a network spokesperson has previously said that “you can expect to see Reeves at some point on the series.” Beggs clarified the question of whether Keanu will appear in the series in his Deadline interview:
“Keanu is in talks to executive produce,” Beggs said. “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. 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. But Keanu and Chad have read every draft and been enthusiastic supporters of expanding this universe in a meaningful way. So, I never rule out anything, but at this point he’s pretty busy making his movies which are very important to us.”
There’s no release date set yet for the series, while the fourth installment of John Wick is projected for May 27, 2022.