'Mr. Robot' Creator Sam Esmail Developing Miniseries Based on Sci-Fi Classic 'Metropolis' (Exclusive)

Sam Esmail - 2016 Writers Guild Awards - Getty -H 2016
Andrew Toth/FilmMagic

Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail is adding yet another project to his résumé.

The writer-director is readying miniseries Metropolis based on Fritz Lang's classic 1927 sci-fi film, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The project is being developed at Universal Cable Productions, where Esmail has a seven-figure overall deal. UCP declined comment.

Sources say the showrunner's exact role in Metropolis is still being negotiated as the project is in the very early stage of development. Insiders add that the studio isn't aiming to launch the miniseries for another two to three years. Should Mr. Robot stick to its tentative four- to five-season plan, that timing would potentially allow for Esmail's schedule to free up to where he could be more involved in the project. (He's been famously hands-on with Mr. Robot, even going so far as to direct every episode last season.)

Like the original film, the small-screen adaptation of Metropolis will take place in a future society where wealthy industrialists rule the vast city from high-rise tower complexes, while a lower class of underground-dwelling workers toil constantly to operate the machines that provide its power. Risking everything they know, two star-crossed lovers from opposite sides of the divide must find a way to bring down the whole system.

At the time of its release nearly 100 years ago, the original sci-fi dystopian epic was one of the most expensive movies ever made. The German film, which is set in the futuristic year of 2026, also was considered groundbreaking for its use of special effects.

Metropolis will be executive produced by Esmail and his manager, Anonymous Content's Chad Hamilton, who also is an executive producer on USA Network's Mr. Robot. The writers' room for the miniseries is said to be a less traditional setup. Insiders say it consists of only two or three scribes total, and is more of a "concept-room" in that the focus is less on writing scripts and more on figuring out conceptually how the movie could be adapted into an episodic series.

Sources say UCP is preparing to spend a hefty $10 million per episode, and that while the studio normally prioritizes its portfolio of networks (USA Network, Syfy, Bravo, E!, etc.), there is no mandate to go to the NBCUniversal-owned nets first. Insiders add that the drama could end up at Mr. Robot home USA, but that it will likely be shopped to other cable and streaming outlets, as well.

Esmail's breakout drama won a Golden Globe for best drama series earlier this year. More recently, series star Rami Malek snagged an Emmy for his breakout performance as the anti-social vigilante hacker Elliot Alderson. The third season of Mr. Robot is current in production and is slated to air in 2017.

Esmail is repped by Anonymous Content and CAA.