Basil Iwanyk, of course, expressed trepidation about continuing the “John Wick” movies as a more expansive franchise. Like many striking hit action films, “John Wick” was never meant to expand into sequels and TV shows, so finding fresh material was a concern. Iwanyk said:
“It’s an original idea that was never meant to be a franchise, and we’ve been making it up as we’ve gone along. The issue we had with television was, how are we going to create a ‘John Wick’ offshoot without cannibalizing ourselves or feeling like we’ve stripped-mined the franchise. Also, the action in the movie just got so big, we shot up half of Paris in the last one. How do you compete with that?”
Competing with “John Wick: Chapter 4,” however, wasn’t a terrible concern once “Continental” showrunners Greg Coolidge and Kirk Ward came up with the basic premise: merely set “The Continental” in the past. It would be about the early days of the hotel in the 1970s and would follow a younger version of Winston Scott (Colin Woodell), the character played by Ian McShane in the movies. Iwanyk was impressed with what immediately came to his mind in terms of aesthetics and tone. He told Deadline:
“Our showrunners came in with the idea of the prequel, for Winston and the start of the Continental. […] I love the film aesthetic of New York in the ’70s; Sidney Lumet is one of my three favorite directors of all time. What a genius idea of doing a prequel because, as we expand the current day ‘Wick’ franchise, it all feeds the prequel, it doesn’t take storylines away from the TV show.”
Once comfortably ensconced in the past, the stories came naturally.