Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer was viewed by many as one of the best films of 2014. (It was on my list of the best films of that year, slotting in at No. 7.) The movie’s independent release by The Weinstein Company (and reported clashes between Harvey Weinstein and Joon-Ho over final cut and length of the film) prevented it from being a mainstream hit.
Although it’s entirely possible that the unusual nature and dark tone would have kept it to cult popularity anyway, even with Captain America, Chris Evans, in the lead. But TNT is hoping that the movie can find new life and acceptance as a TV series. As reported by Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, the network has ordered a pilot for a TV adaptation of the 2014 film. The project is being developed by producer Josh Friedman, who has some experience adapting blockbuster movies to television, having created Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles for Fox.
The original story of Snowpiercer takes place in a post-apocalyptic future in which a man-made attempt to slow global warming goes horribly wrong, resulting in the entire planet freezing over. The human race’s only survivors are left on a high-speed train that circles the globe repeatedly. Within the train, a new society has developed with different levels of class, from the impoverished at the back of the train toward the elite at the front. The lowest class is kept in a virtual slum, with little heat, money, clothing or room for quarters. (One of the big revelations of the film is that those people aren’t just kept in poor conditions.)
The concept, adapted by Joon-Ho from a French graphic novel, might be better suited to a TV series. While the movie focused largely on Evans’ lead character, a few of his fellow passengers, and Tilda Swinton’s Minister, who maintains order between the back and front of the train, the possibilities are rich for a variety of characters and storylines to follow throughout a season of multiple episodes (and seasons). The class system that exists on the train alone could provide many solid narratives. Additionally, the movie takes place seven years after the global freeze, which creates an opportunity for a whole lot of backstory to tell, if needed.
TV rights to the Snowpiercer property were optioned by producers more than a year ago, which provides some indication as to how long these sorts of projects can take to develop. (Perhaps the process is even longer for a sci-fi show with cult appeal like Snowpiercer.) Will the series be as dark, twisted and quirky as the movie on a network like TNT? TNT has taken a darker turn with some of its more recent shows, such as Animal Kingdom, The Last Ship and Murder in the First. The network also had a relatively successful sci-fi show in Falling Skies, which ran for five seasons. So maybe the chances of a TV adaptation being as bold and daring as Joon-Ho’s film shouldn’t be dismissed.
Here’s hoping that the classroom scene is expanded to become a significant part of the series. That was delightfully weird, a tone which a TV adaptation hopefully maintains.