Bong Joon-ho has had a busy year so far, and he’s not about to slow down.
The South Korean filmmaker – whose black comedy thriller Parasite snagged four Oscars in February – is now set to revive one of his earlier films as a Netflix series.
Set in a frigid near-future, the dystopian drama Snowpiercer – which was released as a film in 2013 – tells the story of the survivors of Earth's second Ice Age. They live in a giant 1,001-cabin train that is segregated according to class. The wealthy occupy the front cabins whereas the poor live in the back of the train, disparagingly referred to as "the tail".
In true Joon-ho fashion, the series – much like the film – tackles a number of timely issues, such as social injustice, global warming, economic stratification and the politics of survival.
The 10-episode show is set to premiere on Netflix on Monday, May 25, although regional release dates may differ.
There are some big names tied to the show, including Jennifer Connelly, of A Beautiful Mind and Requiem for a Dream fame, and Daveed Diggs, a US actor and rapper who made his debut playing the roles of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette in the 2015 musical Hamilton. The film version of Snowpiercer starred Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton and Ed Harris.
The TV adaptation has been in development for more than three years, facing a number of delays and production issues due to creative differences that came up between the show’s producers and TNT, the network behind the show.
While the series will air on TNT in North America on Sunday, May 17, Netflix has picked up distribution rights outside the US and China. It was originally set to air on Sunday, May 31, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, showrunners decided to move the premiere forward to bring the series to viewers earlier.
The Americans actress Alison Wright, who plays Ruth on the show, revealed that Snowpiercer was filmed in Vancouver, and connected long, disparate sets to achieve the look of the massive train.
"There were parts of the set that were really, really long – like five or six train cars at a time," she told the New York Post. "It's a very exciting story with so many different slices of humanity that are now all stuck in this moving piece of metal. The idea of them all having to survive together in such close quarters being from so many different walks of life was super interesting."
Wright noted that Joon-ho, who is an executive producer of the show, did not play an active part in making the series version of Snowpiercer.
“He was very hands-off, unfortunately,” said Wright, who added that she is a “big fan” of the filmmaker. “[We had] no interaction whatsoever. I never met him. Hopefully one day!”