Netflix will be the exclusive UK TV home of Snowpiercer the series.
The show is based on the 2013 sci-fi movie by Bong Joon-ho. The Korean director’s first English-language film cost $42 million to made – one of the most expensive projects in Korea’s history – but has never been released in UK cinemas or on DVD. With fans instead choosing to import DVDs to be able to view it, the chances of distributor ever investing in a British release have diminished to almost zero, with the only hope lying in Netflix’s relationship with Bong Joon-ho, whose Okja was a Netflix original. Now, we’ve got the next best thing, as the streaming giant has boarded the long-mooted TV series inspired by the film.
Set seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland, Snowpiercer centres on the remnants of humanity, who inhabit a gigantic, perpetually-moving train that circles the globe. Class warfare, social injustice and the politics of survival are all questioned over course of the journey.
Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs star in the series, alongside Alison Wright (The Accountant), Mickey Sumner (American Made), Katie McGuinness (Dirty Filthy Love), Susan Park (Ghostbusters), Lena Hall (All My Children), Annalise Basso (Bedtime Stories), Sam Otto (Jellyfish), Sheila Vand (Argo), Roberto Urbina (Narcos) and Sasha Frolova (The Interestings).
Snowpiercer is a co-production of Tomorrow Studios, a partnership between Marty Adelstein and ITV Studios, and Turner’s Studio T. The series is executive produced by Tomorrow Studios’ Marty Adelstein (Aquarius, Prison Break, Teen Wolf) and Becky Clements (Good Behavior, Aquarius, Last Man Standing).
Award-winning writer and producer Graeme Manson (Orphan Black) is the showrunner and also serves as executive producer along with Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange), Matthew O’Connor (Continuum) and the original film’s Bong Joon Ho, Park Chan-wook, Lee Tae-hun and Dooho Choi.
James Hawes will serve as director and co-executive producer.
The series will debut on TNT in the US. Through a deal with ITV Studios Global Entertainment, Netflix will premiere the series outside of the US and China in 2019.
Netflix to produce Bong Joon Ho’s new film, as Snowpiercer heads to TV
Netflix will produce the new film from director Bong Joon Ho, while Snowpiercer heads to the small screen.
Okja, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano and Bill Nighy, is one of the first Asian productions backed by the streaming giant. Indeed, while Netflix has previously produced original series Marco Polo, which was shot in Malaysia, and is preparing to release Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2, the VOD company is actively looking to diversify its slate of content to match its target audiences – something that Okja, with Netflix eyeing up a Korea launch, would help to achieve.
Netflix will invest $50 million in the movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter, placing the project just behind the $60 million for Brad Pitt military satire, War Machine, announced by Netflix earlier this year.
It follows the “warm friendship” between a girl and the titular creature, which Bong describes as “a bulky animal, but with a mild and kind spirit”.
“To me, the crazy world surrounding Okja and the girl looks more like a monster. I want to depict the two characters’ bizarre journey and adventure across the tough world in an original fashion,” he is quoted as saying by Variety.
Auditions are currently underway for an actor to play the young girl.
“It really is a fantastic opportunity for me as a filmmaker,” Bong said in a statement. “For Okja, I needed a bigger budget than I had for Snowpiercer and also complete creative freedom. Netflix offered me the two conditions that are difficult to have in hand simultaneously.”
Snowpiercer, Bong’s first English-language film, cost $42 million to made – one of the most expensive projects in Korea’s history. In the US, the movie was distributed by the Weinstein Company, who have a reputation for re-cutting international pictures for American audiences, but it has famously never been released in the UK. With a number of fans choosing to import DVDs to be able to view it in its original form, the chances of distributor investing in a cinema release have diminished, which would leave the film facing either a future on VOD or DVD. Could Snowpiercer eventually arrive on Netflix to go with Bong’s new film? It is not outside of the realms of possibility.
But the news arrives as Snowpiercer finds a new lease of life on the small screen, with Marty Adelstein’s Tomorrow Studios optioning the rights to develop the 2013 sci-fi into a TV series.
Josh Friedman (War Of The Worlds) is attached to write the show, which would be set, like the film, in a post-apocalyptic ice age where the remaining remnants of human civilisation survive on a train that traverses the globe, with the rich people in the front carriages and the poor in the rear.
The series will be executive produced by Bong and Dooho Choi, along side Adelstein, Friedman and Tomorrows’ Becky Clements.
Okja, meanwhile, is far from Weinstein hands: the project will be co-produced by Plan B Entertainment, Brad Pitt’s production company, which has teamed with Netflix already on War Machine and also produced World War Z and 12 Years a Slave.
“Plan B Entertainment has also produced bold and daring films,” added Bong. “I expect the adventurousness of Plan B to blend with ‘Okja’.”
Production on the movie is set to start in late 2016, with a release scheduled for 2017.