Snowpiercer TV Show: Release Date And Everything Else We Know About The TNT Adaptation
What do you get when you mix a frozen, post-apocalyptic world, a massive high-tech train that can never stop running, and the expertise of many talented artists, actors, and filmmakers? You've seen the Snowpiercer movie, and you've maybe even read the original graphic novel--but the TV show is still over the horizon, and we don't yet know what it will add to the series.
The 2013 movie Snowpiercer is one of the most distinctive and best reviewed sci-fi films of the past decade. It was based on Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette's 1982 graphic novel Le Transperceneige, and featured an all-star cast that included Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer and John Hurt, plus the renowned South Korean star Song Kang Ho. It was directed by the brilliant Korean filmmaker Joon-Ho Bong, and was a big worldwide critical and commercial success. So it wasn't a huge surprise when a US TV version was announced in 2015.
However, the path to the small screen hasn't been smooth. By the time the series premieres on TBS, it will have been five years since it was first announced. In that time the show has shed both its high-profile showrunner and main director, both of whom left over differences with the network about the direction of the series. Although the movie had its own distribution problems in the US, the film and graphic novel were the uncompromised visions of acclaimed artists, leading to some concern about whether the TV version could live up what has come before.
Nevertheless, there's plenty to be excited about. The footage we've seen so far has looked spectacular, the cast is impressive, and the show's dystopian premise remains strong. So we have our fingers crossed that the show will deliver what sci-fi fans are after, and what made the movie such a success: a dark, exciting, intelligent sci-fi story that works as both a powerful character drama and spectacular action movie. So here's everything we know so far about Snowpiercer.
Snowpiercer TV show release date
During the Winter 2020 Television Critics Assocation press tour, TNT revealed that the Snowpiercer TV adaptation will arrive on Sunday, May 31 this year. That leaves us a few more months for the hype to build like a speeding post-apocalyptic train.
What's the story?
The set-up for the show remains the same as the graphic novel and the movie--a 1,001 carriage train keeps moving to keep its passengers alive during the new Ice Age. The show is set to deal with similar themes of class struggle, and while specific plot details are unknown, a few details have been revealed by cast and crew. Star Daveed Diggs explained that the show would "broaden exponentially" the world of the comic book and the movie. "That's one of the advantages of TV, you have time," he told IGN. "So the politics that are hinted at in the film are explored in much more depth, [as is] the mechanism of the train." During a TCA panel, TNT boss Kevin Reilly explained that there would be a central mystery running throughout Season 1 and said it would focus on "characters stuck together in an intense environment in a game of survival."
This is where it starts getting complicated. Initially acclaimed writer Josh Friedman was hired by TNT/TBS as showrunner. Friedman's credentials certainly made him seem like the right man for the job--he was the creator of the Terminator spin-off show The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and his screenwriting credits include Spielberg's War of the Worlds and more recently the first of the upcoming Avatar sequels. But after the pilot was shot, Friedman was fired by the network over "creative differences," with Graeme Manson taking over to oversee pilot reshoots and run the rest of the season. Friedman subsequently called Manson an "idiot" for not contacting him out of respect before taking on the job. Thankfully Manson has an impressive si-fi resume too, including co-creating the acclaimed Orphan Black and writing the cult favorite Cube.
Snowpiecer's behind-the-scenes problems didn't stop with its showrunner. Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson was announced as director of the pilot, but after Friedman was fired, Derrickson also quit, publicly stating that he would not return for the required reshoots. "The 72-page Snowpiercer TV pilot script by [Friedman] is the best I've ever read," he said. "The feature-length pilot I made from that script may be my best work. The new showrunner has a radically different vision for the show. I am forgoing my option to direct the extreme reshoots." The reshoots were completed by Doctor Who director James Hawes, who went on to helm a further two episodes of the series.
"A full rebirth"
During the 2020 TCA event at which the network announced Snowpiercer's release date, executive producer Graeme Manson also confirmed that the version that will hit airwaves in May is "a full rebirth" of the show that will use almost nothing from the original pilot. "I pitched it [as] a different world," he said.
The EP also confirmed how the show will differ from the 2013 movie. While the film mostly explored the plight of the inhabitants of the train's tail and traveled with them as they rebelled, the show will spend more time with the train's upper-class inhabitants as well. "One of the first things we did was decide to get to know all of the classes within the first couple of episodes to create an actual character drama, so that, you know, we can understand what life is like in first class, second class, third class, and then the tail," Manson explained.
Who's in the cast?
Unsurprisingly, Snowpiercer has an extensive ensemble cast. The cast is led by Jennifer Connelly (Alita: Battle Angel), who plays Melanie Cavill, a first class passenger who is also the voice of the the train, making regular announcements to its passengers. The male lead is played by Diggs, who is best known for his award-winning role in the musical Hamilton as well as the acclaimed drama Blindspotting. Diggs plays Layton Well, who lives in harsh conditions at the other end of the train. Other actors include Mickey Summer (American Made), Annalise Basso (Slender Man), Steven Ogg (The Walking Dead), and Timothy V. Murphy (Sons of Anarchy).
Rumors of Season 2 and Sean Bean
It's also rumored that TNT is already planning the show's second season, and that actor Sean Bean will be involved. That's certainly exciting, although any Bean casting these days raises questions about how long his character will survive.
Is there a trailer?
The first trailer and an extended scene were revealed at San Diego Comic-Con last month. The trailer can viewed online; it sets up the premise if the show, primarily focusing on Connelly and Digg's characters, as well as showcasing some impressive looking VFX and set design. The clip hasn't appeared online yet, but reportedly featured lots of cows meeting an unfortunate end.
TBS has not yet announced a specific premiere date for Snowpiercer date. However, we know it will arrive in Spring 2020, and it has already been renewed for a second season.