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Director Albert Hughes has checked into The Continental.
The filmmaker, who with his brother co-directed movies such as Menace II Society and The Book of Eli, has signed on to direct two episodes of Lionsgate and Starz’s three-installment event series based on the hit John Wick action movies that star Keanu Reeves.
Continental, which is set in the unique hotel for assassins in the Wick movies, was initially envisioned as spinoff series but was redeveloped as a three-night event series with movie length and movie budgets. The installments are to run about 90 minutes in length and, according to sources, have budgets upwards of $20 million.
Hughes will direct the first and third episode while executive producing all three. A director for episode two has not yet been chosen.
Lionsgate and Starz had no comment.
Many members of the film franchise are involved, with Basil Iwanyk of Thunder Road, original screenwriter Derek Kolstad and franchise director Chad Stahelski exec producing. (Stahelski was slated to direct the premiere episode when Continental was to have been a series.) David Leitch is also an exec producer.
A prequel spinoff, Continental is set 40 years before the events of the Wick series and focuses on a young man named Winston. He will one day grow up to be the character played by Ian McShane in the Wick movies but in the prequel’s story is a young man starting as a hitman hotelier who, along with others, create a haven for unsavory types, all set against a backdrop of 1970s New York.
Wick, and building out an expanded media universe, is a top priority for Lionsgate as it looks to lay a foundation of franchises as a company that does not own a library of big IP brands. The movies organically built a worldwide following one movie at a time, with the three movies generating close to $600 million on a global scale. Recognition factor and ancillary sales are huge and Wick 4 is now in production, with a fifth one to shoot after.
Hughes and his brother Allen Hughes directed and wrote key 1990s urban dramas Menace, which premiered at Cannes, and Dead Presidents, and were two of the few high-profile Black filmmakers of the era. The brothers eventually went on separate filmmaking paths and as a solo helmer, Hughes last directed the well-regarded feature Alpha, an adventure story set in prehistoric times, and a premiere episode of Ethan Hawke’s acclaimed Western series, The Good Lord Bird.
He is repped by CAA and Goodman Genow.
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