'Snowpiercer' Moves Back to TNT for 2020 Debut

Jennifer Connelly - Getty - H 2019
Kevin Mazur/MG19/Getty Images

File this news under "train wreck."

Five months after announcing that long-delayed series Snowpiercer would move to the then-comedy-focused TBS, WarnerMedia on Wednesday announced that the drama — which has already gone through two showrunners and two directors — is now returning to its original home at TNT. The series has already been renewed for a second season. A formal premiere date in spring 2020 has not been determined.

Confused? Yes, we are too. Allow Kevin Reilly, chief content officer at HBO Max and president of TNT, TBS and TruTV to explain: "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,” he said in a statement announcing the news. “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.”

The news comes hours after TBS — the formerly comedy-focused cable network — picked up its first straight-to-series order for a drama in Obliterated, which focuses on an elite special forces team tracking a terrorist network determined to blow up Las Vegas.

The decision to move Snowpiercer to TBS and back to TNT arrives four years after the drama was picked up to pilot at TNT and as new corporate parent WarnerMedia is making its mark on its new brands. Snowpiercer — starring Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs — becomes the latest series to jump networks in the former Turner-owned cabler's suite of networks. The unscripted game shows Drop the Mic and Joker's Wild recently also moved from TBS to TNT as the bar that differentiates both networks continues to blur.   

Meanwhile, rumors continue to swirl that TNT and TBS originals — which include the dramas Animal Kingdom and Claws and the comedies The Last OG and Miracle Workers — could launch on WarnerMedia's upcoming streaming platform before making their linear debut or air exclusively on the direct-to-consumer service.

As for Snowpiercer, the series — which was poised to launch this summer — is based on the 2013 film starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. It is set seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland and centers on the remnants of humanity who inhabit a gigantic, perpetually moving train that circles the globe. Josh Friedman (Sarah Connor Chronicles, War of the Worlds) developed the project, which was first put into development in 2015. It was picked up to pilot at TNT in November 2016 and ordered to series in January 2018 — without Friedman, who said he was fired because the network wanted a more compliant showrunner. It marked the latest time that TNT president Kevin Reilly has parted ways with Friedman or one of his projects. During his tenure as programming president at Fox, Reilly passed over Friedman's own pilot take on Locke and Key and canceled his drama The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson was tapped in February 2018 to take over as showrunner on the drama. A few months later, Friedman blasted his successor's etiquette when Manson failed to get in touch with him before taking over. Original pilot director Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange) subsequently quit and ripped Manson's "radically different vision."

Alison Wright (The Americans) co-stars alongside Rowan Blanchard, who has been promoted to series regular for season two.

No matter how good (or not) Snowpiercer may be, the behind-the-scenes story of the show is already highly entertaining.