'Snowpiercer' Finally Gets TNT Premiere Date After Wild Five-Year Journey

After two showrunners, two pilot directors, two networks and a season two renewal, it is set to launch in May.
Courtesy of TNT
'Snowpiercer'

TNT's Snowpiercer finally has a premiere date following a wild five-year ride to the screen.

The drama, which centers on the remnants of humanity on a perpetually moving train that circles the globe and is based on the 2013 Bong Joon Ho film starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, is set to premiere Sunday, May 31, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the WarnerMedia-backed basic cable network.

The date caps a turbulent road to the screen for the project starring Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs. The delays were a key focus of the show's panel Wednesday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "It took a long time to get it right, but we got it right," showrunner (No. 2) Graeme Manson told reporters. 

Here's a timeline of the behind-the-scenes drama on Snowpiercer's road to TV and more from producers on the issues outlined below:

November 2015: The project is first put into development, with Josh Friedman tapped to write a script adaptation of Snowpiercer; producers Tomorrow Studios shop the package to buyers.

November 2016: TNT lands the script and hands out a formal pilot order.

May 2017: Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) is tapped to star, taking on the role played by Evans in the feature. Jennifer Connelly joins the cast a month later in the part that Swinton had in the pic.

January 2018: The show is ordered to series at TNT. An episode count and premiere date are not revealed. Friedman's (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) name is not included in the release announcing the series order.

February 2018: Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson is hired as showrunner, replacing Friedman. Rewrites on the pilot begin shortly afterward. That same day, Friedman tweets that he was "removed" from Snowpiercer for not being "compliant."

May  2018: Friedman rips Manson — calling him an "idiot" — for not reaching out before taking over the show the former had worked on for the past three years: "If you were to take over a show I'd originated and worked on for two years and didn't reach out to me before taking the job you're either an idiot, a coward, or a vichy motherfucker."

June 2018: Original Snowpiercer pilot director Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange) blasts Manson's "radically different vision" for the series and refuses to return for reshoots on the pilot while also praising Friedman's work. "The 72-page Snowpiercer TV pilot script by @Josh_Friedman is the best I've ever read. The feature-length pilot I made from that script may be my best work," he writes. James Hawes (TNT's The Alienist) is hired to direct the reshoots. (Manson told reporters Wednesday at TCA that he didn't think there was "any" of Friedman's original pilot left when compared with the episode that will air in May. "I think there's a little piece of a special-effects set piece. But it was a full rebirth of the series when I came on," he said. "I pitched a different world.")

May 2019: With the series expected to premiere in summer 2019 and cast options about to expire, TNT parent WarnerMedia announces that Snowpiercer has been renewed for a second season — and will be moving to the comedy-focused network TBS as that cabler pushes into drama.

October 2019: Upon further review — and allegedly seeing all 10 episodes of the series — WarnerMedia announces Snowpiercer is moving back to TNT, but still without a premiere date. "We’ve had the unique opportunity to more thoroughly test and explore where this show will best perform. While we are still adding dramas to TBS (such as Obliterated), after further research and consideration we’ve decided to keep Snowpiercer on TNT,” says Kevin Reilly, who oversees TNT, TBS and HBO Max. “Now that we’ve seen this incredible post-apocalyptic sci-fi series in its entirety, and better understand the audience this show will appeal to, we’re confident it will perform strongest on TNT."

January 2020: TNT announces a May premiere date for Snowpiercer, though Reilly and company still have five months to realize that the series may make the most sense on the streamer HBO Max, which is expected to launch … in May. Stay tuned.