The Big Picture
- Rebuilding the iconic Continental in the John Wick prequel series was a massive undertaking, requiring a 40-foot tall set over two NFL football fields in size.
- The team had to get creative with depicting the hotel’s exterior since they couldn’t use the real Beaver Building, resulting in a grandiose, menacing design with sculptures and eagles.
- The Continental: From the World of John Wick will explore the past of the hotel and its characters, set in a trash-filled 1970s New York City during a sanitation strike, and will feature a new cast including Colin Woodell and Mel Gibson.
In the world of John Wick, there’s hardly a locale as recognizable or memorable as The Continental of New York. Besides its importance to the franchise as a sanctuary for high-profile members of the criminal underworld, it is also an imposing piece of architecture with the landmark Beaver Building used for any exterior shots of the hotel. For the prequel series The Continental: From the World of John Wick, however, the team had to get creative with depicting the hotel in its younger years. Speaking to Collider’s Perri Nemiroff from our studio at San Diego Comic-Con, production designer Drew Boughton explained why the building’s exterior was the most challenging set to recreate.
Rebuilding the iconic Continental was a massive undertaking according to Boughton. “The biggest build was the exterior of The Continental, which was a huge set,” he revealed. “It’s about 40 feet tall, two NFL football fields side by side in its footprint of construction. Not grass, just actual build. And so that was an enormous structure.” Such a build likely would not have been necessary apart from one crucial difference between the prequel and the John Wick films – Chad Stahelski and company were allowed to film the exterior of the Beaver Building, but the team behind the Peacock series was not. “But what was wonderful about it is that we had an obstacle with an opportunity in it, and that was that the building in New York that had been used refused to let us use the facade as it had been in the films”
Not only was the building off limits but there needed to be a legal distinction between the show’s Continental and the Beaver Building. While it proved a challenge for the team, it also gave Boughton and his crew the chance to flex their creative muscles to give the hotel for assassins a signature flair. The new design could be seen prominently in the key art for the series, showing a similar flatiron design to that of the Beaver Building while modifying the facade to give it a more grandiose feel. Boughton explained how they adhered to the franchise’s sense of art and style when building the set:
“Even to emulate it. So we had this opportunity, which is you got to change it for legal purposes. So because the John Wick world is so much about art in all its different ways, about painting and sculpture and dance and photography, in this moment it’s like, ‘How do I put the sculptures, (those) kinds of things on this building?’ So we came up with the idea to put these eagles to give a whole new sort of menacing creative texture, like a secret society vibe to the front of this building. So it was just terrific. And then we put eagles in the back because once we started carving eagles, we couldn’t stop. (Laughs)”
What’s in Store for Viewers Who Check Into The Continental?
Boughton earned a bit of love from series director Albert Hughes who was impressed with his ability to fill sets with little details that add extra character. “Because she asked about the little details, I know it’s not my question to answer, but Drew’s tchotchke game? Unmatched,” Hughes added. “If you look at Cormac’s office, just look for the horses.”
The Continental will unfold across three parts in a trash-filled New York City amid the 1970s sanitation strike. A young Winston Scott re-enters the treacherous criminal underworld of the hotel to finally face his past and take his rightful place as the head of The Continental alongside his allies. If the footage at SDCC was any indication, this series looks to be another intense ride full of action and a bit of levity as it explores the past of the iconic hotel. Since the show is set so far before the beloved film franchise, a new cast is coming in to play beloved characters including Colin Woodell as Winston and newcomer Ayomide Adegun as Charon. The rest of the cast features Mel Gibson as the crime kingpin Cormac alongside Peter Green, Ben Robson, Hubert Point–Du Jour, Jessica Allain, Mishel Prada, and Nhung Kate. Greg Coolidge and Kirk Ward are at the helm of the series.
Check-in for The Continental: From the World of John Wick begins on September 22 with part two following on September 29 and part three on October 6. Check out the full interview with the crew behind the series below.