In a world where the quest for the perfect filming location is as thrilling as the plot of a blockbuster movie, Budapest emerges as the unexpected hero, or shall we say, the unsung protagonist, in the filming of ‘The Continental.’
“The Continental,” the prequel spin-off to the ‘John Wick’ franchise, takes us back to the gritty and tumultuous 1970s New York City, a time marked by the Winter of Discontent and the rise of the American Mafia. The series, aired on Peacock, chronicles the origins of the iconic assassin refuge, The Continental Hotel, and follows a young Winston Scott as he becomes the proprietor of this legendary establishment.
The choice of Budapest as the primary filming location was initially met with skepticism. The city, with its rich history and architectural marvels, had to convincingly morph into the chaotic and vibrant landscape of 1970s New York City. The task was daunting, but the transformation was nothing short of cinematic magic.
Erica Lee shared her initial reservations during a press roundtable, “We shot in Budapest, which initially was a bit daunting.” However, the city, with its versatile landscapes and adaptable backdrops, rose to the occasion, leaving even the lifelong New Yorker and fellow executive producer, Basil Iwanyk, impressed by its chameleon-like transformation.
“When we heard we were going to Budapest, I was like, ‘It’s going to look like shit.’ I’m the guy that could watch anything and spot that’s not New York…I pick out these things, and it annoys the hell out of me. I was shocked. I think that was a thing we pulled off”, said Iwanyk.
The production team meticulously redressed an existing New York backlot and leveraged the diverse locales of Budapest to recreate the organic and raw essence of New York in the ’70s. “I think we did an amazing job of kind of capturing the smells, the feels, the really organic nature of it, and then putting a bit of the John Wick spin on it,” added Lee, expressing her satisfaction with the final outcome.
Budapest’s ability to seamlessly blend into the narrative of ‘The Continental’ not only highlights its aesthetic versatility but also underscores its rising prominence in the global film production landscape. The city has been the backdrop for a plethora of films and TV shows, including ‘Dune,’ ‘Blade Runner 2049,’ and ‘Moon Knight,’ solidifying its status as a sought-after destination for filmmakers seeking authenticity and visual splendor.