In what is certainly not a welcome sign for the long-in-production adaptation of Bong Joon Ho’s Snowpiercer, it has been reported that TNT is in the market for a new showrunner, following the departure of Josh Friedman. Movement on the series had been advancing at a snail’s pace before the filming of the Scott Derrikson-directed pilot last year, but it finally received a greenlight from the network. From there it seemed as though the all systems were go, but now that’s clearly not the case.
Although it isn’t uncommon for a this kind of behind-the-scenes upheaval to happen just as a series begins moving forward, it’s not a good look for a series as ambitious as Snowpiercer. One of the more unlikely films slated for a television adaptation, the story of an ice-covered apocalyptic future where the remnants of humankind circle the globe on a massive train, the film made for a pointed and none-too-subtle allegory on wealth inequality and the way in which members of various different social classes are viewed and treated. The film starred Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, and John Hurt, as passengers on the stratified locomotive, and the television series is set to star Jennifer Connelly, as well as Daveed Diggs, Alison Wright, and Mickey Sumner.
As first reported by Variety, however, Friedman, who also wrote the pilot script for the series, has left the production, citing the now all-too familiar “creative differences” as the reason for his departure. Friedman takes with him considerable experience in bringing genre material to television, as he previously worked as the showurnner on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and was a producer on NBC’s short-lived Emerald City series.
What this means for the future of the project is uncertain, as Snowpiercer has already been ordered to series. That puts the production in the unenviable position of moving forward with a new showrunner with the wheels ostensibly already turning on Friedman’s vision for the show. It also raises the question of what TNT was hoping to get from the series that Friedman apparently wasn’t willing to deliver, and how things managed to progress to the stage they’re at now before this issue of creative differences became enough of an obstacle it resulted in the two parties going their separate ways.
That puts Snowpiercer in some company it might not want to be in ahead of its official premiere. The disagreement in the show’s direction is unfortunately similar to what transpired on two other genre series, Star Trek: Discovery and American Gods, both of which saw showrunner Bryan Fuller depart, though at least the latter had a full season with him at the helm. In the end, Snowpiercer will likely benefit from Friedman’s departure happening before audiences have seen the pilot, so, if need be, TNT can more easily restructure the show around the ideas his replacement will bring.
Snowpiercer does not yet have an official premiere date.