The Futuristic Action Film, Directed by Bong Joon-ho, Will Be Adapted Into a Series
SNOWPIERCER, the 2013 action bonanza/political theater that brought together director Bong Joon-ho, ATTORNEY star Song Kang-ho, a big-toothed Tilda Swinton, and Captain America gone scruffy Chris Evans, is coming to television.
Per a November 11 Hollywood Reporter article, Tomorrow Studios will be translating the series into an English-language TV production. The studio is fronted by tube vet Marty Adelstein, whose production experience includes such series as PRISON BREAK and TRU CALLING.
Per the Reporter, Josh Friedman, who wrote the 2005 Steven Spielberg sci-fi saga WAR OF THE WORLDS, will be handling SNOWPIERCER’s writing duties for TV. Bong will be executive producing the series, alongside fellow Korean auteur Park Chan-wook.
“I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity,” Friedman says in the Reporter piece, regarding his newest project. But should fans be more skeptical about SNOWPIERCER, the series, getting lost in creative translation?
SNOWPIERCER the Series: A Disaster In the Making or Bong’s TV Breakthrough?
SNOWPIERCER comes to TV with a prior history of behind-the-scenes fiddling from execs. The 2013 film’s release was shrouded in controversy, as Bong and Harvey Weinstein quarreled over trimming the American-release’s final cut.
Which isn’t to say Bong’s film is an arty slog. There’s no doubt SNOWPIERCER contains commercial appeal. It features, for instance, some excellent combat set pieces, aboard the claustrophobic train that engulfs a futuristic society and places it in a modern-day caste system. There’s an instantly iconic villain, in Swinton’s Thatcheresque Deputy-Minister Mason. And, of course, Bong’s film stars the undeniably charismatic Chris Evans at the center of it all as revolutionary Curtis Everett.
But the film is also a deeply strange film for a big-budget actioneer, with a potent (if, yes, at times unwieldy) tension between the opulent and the idiosyncratic. Actors give deliberately over-the-top performances, the dialogue follows suit (who could forget THAT monologue by Pine, one that could be read as unintentional dark humor, subversion of the Marvel goody-two-shoes-superhero image, and heartfelt story of poverty’s harshest agonies… simultaneously). And there’s the unmistakably political edge at the essence of the proceedings: the train is separated into the elites and everyone else, leading to an uprising.
The spirit of stylistic weirdness, political bite, and top-notch set pieces made Bong’s SNOWPIERCER vision a riveting experience, as the director bent the rules of expectation and dared to go a little wild with the material (originally based on a French graphic novel). The Hollywood Reporter‘s piece notes how “Reboots have become all the rage in recent years as broadcast and cable networks look for built-in fan bases”… But does Bong’s SNOWPIERCER, at its root, really fit an easily adaptable formula?
If the U.S. SNOWPIERCER series can land in a situation where the weird spirit at the root of Bong’s film can flourish, things could get interesting. We are in an era where Steven Soderbergh, an auteur with a distinctive style, like Bong, can make a non-commercial show like THE KNICK. Cinemax, a premium channel devoid of censorship restrictions faced by the ABCs and CBSs of the country, allows Soderbergh the freedom to explore his story of blood, guts, science, and drugs at the turn of the 20th century freely, without a lot of commercial concession.
Bong fought tooth-and-nail, as many an artist has, to get his production out, his way. Hopefully, round two for SNOWPIERCER doesn’t face the same pressures from American producers. For the kind of victory Bong was able to score, in Hollywood, comes few and far between.