Albert Hughes, the director, has arrived at The Continental. The filmmaker, who co-directed films including Menace II Society and The Book of Eli with his brother, has signed on to helm two episodes of Lionsgate and Starz’s three-part event series based on the popular John Wick action films starring Keanu Reeves.
Continental, a three-night event series based in the Wick movies’ distinctive hotel for assassins, was originally conceived as a spinoff series but was rebuilt as a three-night event series with movie length and costs. The episodes will last around 90 minutes and have a budget of up to $20 million, according to sources.
The first and third episodes will be directed by Hughes, who will also executive produce all three. The director for episode two has yet to be determined.
Continental is a prequel spinoff set 40 years before the events of the Wick series and follows Winston, a young man. He will grow up to be the character represented by Ian McShane in the Wick films, but in the prequel, he begins as a hitman hotelier who, with the help of others, creates a refuge for unpleasant characters, all set in 1970s New York.
Wick, as well as expanding Lionsgate’s media universe, is a major goal for the studio as it seeks to establish a franchise base as a firm without a large portfolio of huge IP properties. The films naturally grew a global audience one film at a time, with the three films grossing close to $600 million globally. The recognition factor and ancillary revenues are significant, and Wick 4 is already in development, with a fifth to follow.
Hughes and his brother Allen Hughes were two of the few high-profile Black filmmakers of the 1990s, directing and writing major urban dramas such as Menace, which debuted at Cannes, and Dead Presidents. Hughes recently directed the well-regarded movie Alpha, an adventure story set in ancient times, and the debut episode of Ethan Hawke’s famous Western series, The Good Lord Bird, as a solo helmer.