11:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'John Wick' TV Series in the Works at Starz (With Keanu Reeves Attached)
John Wick is the latest feature film to get the small-screen treatment.
Starz announced Friday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour that it was developing The Continental, an ongoing drama series based on the John Wick film franchise starring Keanu Reeves. Reeves, Starz execs said, is expected to make an appearance in the potential series but will not star.
The potential TV series is set in the John Wick universe and focuses on the inner workings of the exclusive Continental Hotel, which serves as a refuge for assassins.
Chris Collins (Sons of Anarchy, The Wire, Man in the High Castle) will pen the script and serve as showrunner should the drama move forward. The original film's creative team is on board for the TV offshoot, with Thunder Road Pictures' Basil Iwanyk — who produced the first two features and serves in the same capacity on the forthcoming third — leads an exec producing team that also includes Chad Stahelski (who directed the first two and is returning for the third), original franchise screenwriter Derek Kolstad, Collins, David Leitch (who co-directed the original) and Reeves. Stahelski will direct the premiere of The Continental, should the script move forward.
The John Wick franchise — produced by Lionsgate, which now fully owns Starz — has grossed nearly $300 million worldwide. The third feature, with Reeves starring, is due in 2019. Starz will retain domestic multiplatform pay TV and SVOD rights to the series, while Lionsgate will control international, domestic distribution and home entertainment rights.
"This series is truly unlike anything else on TV,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said. “The Continental promises to include the thunderous fight sequences and intensely staged shootouts between professional assassins and their targets that fans have come to expect in the John Wick movie franchise as well as introduce some new, darkly compelling characters who inhabit this underground world.”
The Continental arrives as reboots and spinoffs remain in high demand while broadcast, cable and streaming platforms continue to look for proven franchises in a bid to cut through a cluttered landscape that is expected to top 520 original scripted series in 2018. Key to the reboots is having the original producers involved, which The Continental has with Lionsgate and the John Wick's original producing team.
The project arrives as Starz continues to ramp up its scripted offerings from Lionsgate after the company was sold last year. Starz went to series on Lionsgate-produced Vida and Stephenie Meyer's The Rook. Those join a roster of scripted originals that includes American Gods, Ash vs. Evil Dead, The Missing, Outlander, Power, Counterpart, Howard's End and Sweetbitter.