‘The series offers the action and edginess of the box-office franchise, but with its own distinctive feel’

Distributors Lionsgate
Producer Lionsgate Thunder Road Pictures
Length 3 x 90 minutes
Broadcasters Peacock (US); Amazon Prime (global)

Having wowed film fans for years, Lionsgate’s John Wick franchise, which stars Keanu Reeves as a reluctant assassin, hit blockbuster status this year with its fourth outing. Now the US studio giant is expanding the universe with a prequel in the form of TV event series The Continental.

Followers of the franchise will instantly recognise The Continental as the hotel for assassins that features regularly in the movies. This new Thunder Road Pictures’ production set in 1970s New York delivers the hotel’s origin story.

The Continental 2

The story is seen through the eyes of Winston Scott, the enigmatic puppet-master who has established himself as The Continental’s kingpin in the films. In the Peacock series, a young Scott “charts a deadly course through the hotel’s mysterious underworld in a harrowing attempt to seize the hotel where he will take his future throne”.

Lionsgate president of international, television & digital distribution, Agapy Kapouranis says: “The Continental is a strong example of the studio’s ‘Lionsgate 360’ strategy of driving opportunities for our IP across our businesses.

“John Wick has become part of the cultural zeitgeist, and we’re always exploring new ways for fans to experience the world.”

Kapouranis says that when thinking about developing the IP for TV, Lionsgate “wanted to embrace the originality that [director] Chad Stahelski created in the films, while suggesting enough distance to make viewers believe we are depicting a younger version of Winston”.

The Continental 3

“We worked closely with Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee, who have produced all the films and are executive producing The Continental,” she explains. “They are tied into all facets of the franchise, so we never stray from the core mythology.”

Not surprisingly, The Continental quickly secured landmark licensing deals. “We’re partnered with NBC Universal streamer Peacock in the US and Amazon Prime Video internationally,” says Kapouranis.

“Both platforms have been great collaborators, with marketing campaigns that have made The Continental one of the most highly anticipated series of the year.”

Explaining the interest to buyers, Kapouranis says The Continental will “stand out because it comes with a built-in global fanbase”.

“The series offers the action and edginess that the billion-dollar box-office franchise is known for, but with its own distinctive feel,” she says. “Buyers will recognise the series resonates with existing fans but can also draw in new ones.”

The Continental 7

Despite its neo-noir New York backdrop, the production was shot in Budapest. Kapouranis says: “One of my favourite elements is the iconic hotel façade, which is an actual building in New York City. Our production team shot a lot of drone footage in and around the city and then worked to make it look like 1975, creating the show’s authentic look and feel.”

She believes The Continental’s unusual three-part format will also be attractive, with the extended 90-minute episodes aiming to “build anticipation and produce a tent-pole event similar to the films”.