Progress continues to be made on a John Wick prequel TV series, with a working title and general premise now in place. The first two John Wick movies center on the title character played by Keanu Reeves, only giving indications of the larger world that the character occupies. That world will be fleshed out more in the planned third John Wick movie, which (according to director Chad Stahelksi) will delve into Wick’s backstory and provide more information about the series’ unseen villains, The High Table.
Beyond their John Wick films, Stahelski and screenwriting partner Derek Kolstad have always had other plans for the John Wick franchise; plans that don’t necessarily center on the films’ title character. A TV series has long been part of the larger scheme and now it looks like that series is coming together.
IndieWire reports that Lionsgate is currently developing a John Wick prequel series that goes under the working title The Continental. As fans of the John Wick movies know, “The Continental” is not just the name of the swanky hotel where assassins congregate, it’s a whole chain of hotels across the world that provide neutral ground for assassins (no business is allowed on Continental grounds and anyone who breaks the rules is subject to harsh punishment). Stahelski talked about what Lionsgate is developing and how it will expand on the world of the movies:
“They’ve got a really good structure. It’s very tied to the film [in that] it’s about the Continentals all over the world, how certain people come into that world, and what happens in relation to those people, which is cool. I think the world is very vast, and everything I’ve heard from it is very positive. […] It’s something that studio seems very, very intent on [making] and very, very behind.”
Stahelski’s work on John Wick 3 and other feature film projects may limit his ability to be involved in the TV show, but he does say he’d like to perhaps direct a couple of episodes if his schedule allows. As for Keanu Reeves getting involved, Lionsgate would not confirm anything but Stahelski did indicate that Reeves might pop up on the show at some point. That being said, The Continental is not intended to center on John Wick himself.
Stahelski talked about the possibilities offered by television to expand on a story in ways that feature filmmaking doesn’t allow for:
“I like telling stories from my one character’s perspective. Once you put that aside with the TV show, [you can] expand to all the different characters and follow them throughout their journey. You can be with the consigliere, concierge, the sommelier — you can be with all these different characters and walk through the world in different aspects; ones that I’m a little limited [from exploring] by staying with my lead guy.”
The John Wick movies did a good job setting up a world that feels like it has a whole unseen, unknown history and a presence that stretches far beyond what we are shown. Whether that larger world is interesting enough to support an entire TV series that doesn’t center on the one established main character, the single person through whose eyes we’ve experienced that world, remains to be seen.