With director Ilya Naishuller’s Nobody arriving in theaters this weekend, I recently spoke with screenwriter Derek Kolstad about writing the Bob Odenkirk action movie. While I’ll have more about the making of Nobody soon, as a huge fan of his work on the John Wick franchise with Keanu Reeves (he wrote all three movies), I wanted to share some updates on that universe today.
The big news is Kolstad told me he is not writing John Wick 4. He said it wasn’t his decision, but he’s excited to see where it goes:
“No, it wasn’t my decision. When you think of the contractually of these things, the third one I shared the credit with any number of people, they didn’t have to come back to me, and so they didn’t. At a certain stage the studio will tell you, your creation is graduated, and you wish it well. I’m still close with Chad (Stahelski), still close with David (Leitch), and I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m excited to see.”
One of the things that’s been in active development for years is the forthcoming John Wick spinoff series, The Continental. Previously director Chad Stahelski talked about what separates The Continental from the John Wick franchise despite both the movies and the show occupying the same world. Per Stahelski, The Continental will have “a very different timeline structure and a very different perspective of character,” implying the show will cover a longer stretch of time than the one-week (and some change) timeline utilized in the John Wick franchise. Stahelski went on to reveal an interesting new plot detail, “[The show is] about how deep the world goes, and not just about assassins but everything that’s included. And a lot of the origin stories are some of the characters that you see in [John Wick].”
Since it’s been almost a year since we’ve heard anything, I wasn’t sure if the series was still stuck in development hell. But Kolstad said we’re about to get some big updates:
“Well they’re about to make some pretty large announcements in the next couple of weeks in regards to what’s going to happen there. Can’t say much, but it’s happening.”
In addition, we talked about what it might take to get a kick ass John Wick video game, if he has plans to direct, why he’s excited to make Hellsing at Amazon, and more.
Check out what he had to say in the player above or you can read the transcript below.
Collider: Why have we not gotten a ridiculously awesome John Wick video game yet?
DEREK KOLSTAD: I don’t know how to answer that one. On the one hand, it’s the problem with the IP game. Sometimes you get a book that becomes a shitty movie and a great TV show, an awful mobile game and a great VR experience. Sometimes it’s a crap shoot and you’re like, “How the hell is that great as that thing, but not that other thing?” And the way I describe anything is I was at a screening one time and a legendary producer came up to me, he was a fan of John Wick, we were chatting and he said, “Derek, if I knew how to make a good project, I would.” And I’m like, he’s got a 150 credits to his name, I get it though.
I think the other thing, too, is you want to start off small, and in video games they encourage you to go large. To me, the best, you look at the MCU. You wouldn’t have Endgame had it not earned what it was through Iron Man, Thor, The First Avenger, all that kind of stuff. And so I think it’s a hard balance right now and the world of gaming is changing far faster than anything else.
I also wonder if there’s a way of more games, instead of going for spending hundreds of millions of dollars in creating this epic thing, I’m wondering if it almost could be done in a smaller scale, where you are creating a 10 or 20 dollar game that’s just really cool, that’s more contained, and maybe instead of it being 100 hours, it’s five, or four.
KOLSTAD: Well you look at the open world of it all, the last game that I spent way too much time in was Skyrim. And that was an escape, it was cathartic, it was the only game I can remember I wandered around plucking daisies or whatever and going, “I’m having a good time.” And when you look at certain games that have done the massive world-knowing correctly, it also has the minutia. So it would be a massive endeavor, and yet, you look at what the Hitman games have done in the past, or MDK 25 years ago, and things like that, and you’re just like, I also miss that. You’re thrown into it, you have a mission, go. Cool. But the best part about John Wick in that universe is the underlying world. It’s The Continental, it’s the High Table, and to get there, it becomes a more complex creature.
Speaking of The Continental, whatever happened with that TV series? What’s going on?
KOLSTAD: Well they’re about to make some pretty large announcements in the next couple of weeks in regards to what’s going to happen there. Can’t say much, but it’s happening. And in regards to everything John Wick, you just hope for the best.
I was told to ask you about your grandfather and where John Wick comes from (his grandfather’s name is John Wick).
KOLSTAD: Nothing like Grandpa, man. And in fact, Grandpa, who’s still alive, has not seen John Wick because the last R rated movie he saw was The Piano. Yeah, he saw a lot of Harvey, we all saw a lot of Harvey in that movie. Honestly, for the longest time, if you go back to any other specs, you’re going to see all of the credited names on the posters for Dirty Dozen, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Ronin, because they were on my walls. But for my grandpa, it just came down to John Wick. And I just liked the name and when we started going out with it as the original title Scorn, Keanu spent so much time referring to it as John Wick that the marketing department is like, “Just call it John Wick. It’s going to glean us a great deal of free press.” And so it was just in the moment. And then when it became what it was, he’s tickled, man.
Of course, I have to ask you, as a huge fan of the franchise, where are you in the writing process of Wick four and five?
KOLSTAD: I’m actually not involved in four and five.
KOLSTAD: No. At a certain stage of the studio will tell you, your creation is graduated, and you wish it well. I’m still close with Chad, still close with Dave, and I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m excited to see.
This might be a sore subject but I’m going to ask, was this your decision? Was this a mutual thing? Are you still executive producing?
KOLSTAD: No, it wasn’t my decision. When you think of the contractually of these things, the third one I shared the credit with any number of people, they didn’t have to come back to me, and so they didn’t. And so you look at that and you could be hurt, and I would say if I was 20 years ago I would have been, but seeing what the industry is and how things go, I just believe that you bless everything and hope it all the best, and to the players involved who are doing other things elsewhere. And yeah, it’s personal, so I’m never going to talk shit about John Wick. I want this thing to survive and thrive.
I’m sort of stunned. But at the same time, it’s not like you didn’t land on your feet and are not involved in 60 other things.
KOLSTAD: Yeah. I’m finally in a position where I can make cool shit with cool people who want to make cool shit. That’s the playground mentality. And I love it, man. I’m far more blessed, and I know that with hard work, sometimes these things come, and it’s timing and luck, and I’ve been lucky. With timing. And hard work.
If you could get the green light and the financing for any project tomorrow, what would you make and why?
KOLSTAD: Honestly, one of my dream projects, and this sounds like pandering, I just got, and that’s Hellsing with Amazon. I’ve been such a massive fan of that manga and anime for years that when I was introduced to it a while ago, that was a dream project. So, there’s that. But I think I’m also one of those guys that, in my extro interview with Marvel, and any number of other places, I don’t have a favorite. I’m the kind of guy that, if you build a sandbox and fill it with sand, and you say, “Do you want to come in here and make a sandcastle? I need your help.” I’m like, “Fuck yeah!” I’m more of a catalyst guy, dude. So when you think of what you’re passionate about, I don’t really have anything that’s 100% akin to the value of self, like I need to make this thing, because I’m getting to play in the places that are real. And honestly, there are a couple others I’d love to mention but they’re being made by other people, sadly.
Do you see yourself directing at some point? Or do you feel like that’s not your strong suit?
KOLSTAD: It’s not my strong suit and it’s not my interest. I saw what Dave and Chad went through to become what they are and it’s just a different beast, a different build. They’re phenomenal at it. I can’t focus on one thing for 18 months or two years. I love writing. I love being alone. I love that the world can fuck off while I type. That just has always made me happy, I guess I’m one of the few rare writers who just… I want to write. I love it.
Look for more from my interview with Kolstad soon.
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