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The Continental: Director Albert Hughes checks into the prequel series and the future of the John Wick franchise

Lionsgate’s John Wick franchise introduced an aspect of the plot that could make it challenging to continue the series, but since when has a bump in the road kept Hollywood from keeping the money train on the tracks? Lionsgate executives recently got a first look at Ballerina, the John Wick spinoff starring Ana de Armas, Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Anjelica Huston, and the late Lance Reddick. With optimism in the air, creatives wonder how long they can keep the franchise going after Ballerina, and the John Wick prequel series, The Continental, take center stage. According to The Continental producer Basil Iwanyk, we’ll know more by September. Still, that won’t keep him from commenting on where the franchise could go after the shocking finale of John Wick: Chapter 4.

While drinking bottles of whiskey in Japan, Iwanyk, Stahelski, and Reeves discussed what lies ahead for the John Wick Universe and if the franchise could continue without its title character. “Once they get through their hangovers, if Keanu and Chad have figured out something cool, if they’ve an organic way back in that doesn’t feel like bullshit, then there will be a John Wick 5.”

“The challenge of doing a TV show from John Wick is people think this is based on some underlying IP,” said Iwanyk. “It’s an original idea that was never meant to be a franchise, and we’ve been making it up as we’ve gone along. The issue we had with television was how are we going to create a John Wick offshoot without cannibalizing ourselves or feeling like we’ve stripped mined the franchise.”

During a one-on-one with DeadlineThe Continental producer and director Albert Hughes spilled more than blood and bullets about the three-part series focusing on the Gotham-based hotel for assassins. Hughes directs the first and third episodes of The Continental, which “follows Winston through the underworld of ’70s New York, where he will battle demons from his past as he attempts to seize control of the iconic hotel – a hotel that serves as a meeting point for the world’s most dangerous criminals.”

When asked about establishing connective tissue between the films and the prequel series, Hughes explains how inspiration comes from all corners of the Wick world.

“I just love what Chad Stahelski did with those movies, the way they looked. It’s not necessarily the kind of style I would do, but I love watching someone do that stuff,” Hughes explained to Deadline. “Noir, Greek mythology, and he’s very much influenced by Bob Fosse dance movies. He talked to me about his influences when I got asked to do this by the producers. I said, what do you guys want from this? Give me three things. One was to open up more of the mythology but keep it grounded. Chad was very supportive and said, do your own thing. Make it yours.”

“Then it became what do I have that’s mine, that I can bring like Chad brought to the movies, with all that gun-fu, stunt background and visual flair? I started with, I love ’70s music and got to explore the two sides of my culture. I grew up in a house with a white mother, and a black father. He’s playing James Brown and Parliament, and she’s playing Jimi Hendrix, Credence and Pink Floyd. I got a wonderfully done script and completely connected with Kirk Ward.”

While The Continental does not feature Keanu Reeves’ John Wick, the series includes other beloved characters from the action franchise, including Colin Woodell as a young Winston, Ayomide Adegun as Charon, and the hotel’s manager, Cormac, played by Mel Gibson.

Talking about the diversity of The Continental and how the haven for criminals is a melting pot of unsavory sorts, Hughes said, “Winston had been established by the writers before I came on. It was a good take, we see how Winston and Charon became who they are, and how their weird, mysterious partnership formed. As it hashed out in drafts, it was the old 48 Hours or The Defiant Ones, the Black and White guy partnership with two cultures coming together. What was also interesting about the script was a multicultural feel that wasn’t cynical. You’ve got powerful women of different ethnic backgrounds, and that’s what’s great about New York. Chad did this in the films. They’ll have a non-binary character, an Asian character, a Black character, a powerful female, and they’re all in this world of baddies. It becomes by degrees how bad they are to determine who is our true protagonist.”

Hughes thinks Gibson’s Cormac will rock many boats when The Continental premieres. His character is rough around the edges and lacks the dignity and grace of someone like McShane’s Winston. Hughes says Cormac is a cross between Joel Silver and Donald Trump. He will stand out among even the worst of New York’s criminal element.

“The showrunner Kirk Ward and I talked in detail about it. Kirk is a massive action movie fan, and his references are 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, The Warriors, stuff like that,” said Hughes. “With Mel, Kirk and I decided he should be a little shabby on the edges. His organization skills aren’t as tight as Winston’s are later on. It feels a little cheap. Then I started coming up with my own motivations for the character, that was a cross between Joel Silver and Donald Trump.”

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Finally, when asked what fans can expect when The Continental comes to Peacock in September, Hughes avoids specifics but teases an expansion to the John Wick mythology we haven’t seen before.

“I wouldn’t say anything specific, but the whole point was to explore the mythology more, the secrets of the hotel through the characters Winston and Charon, and play with the intersecting characters and storylines. There’s this wild cast of new characters that come in and out of that world… I’d say they can expect the high style that the John Wick films give. But different, because we’re in the ’70s. It’s good eye candy, escapism and fun.”

Check out Deadline‘s full interview with Albert Hughes about The Continental, his influences, the pressure of contributing to a beloved franchise, and more.

Are you excited about The Continental? Do you think Stahelski and the teams behind the John Wick franchise will find a way to continue the story after the events of John Wick: Chapter 4? Please feel free to let us know in the comments below.

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/the-continental-john-wick-prequel-series/

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