Sam Esmail, the celebrated auteur behind the cybersecurity drama Mr. Robot, is working to adapt the 1927 Fritz Lang film Metropolis as a miniseries, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter. The project is in the very early stages of development, the report says, and it’s unclear what role Esmail will play in the finished project. It’s not expected to hit screens for another two or three years, which likely means Esmail will first finish out his four- to five-season roadmap for Mr. Robot before turning his focus on the adaptation. Season three of Mr. Robot is set to debut some time in 2017.
Metropolis was, for its time, one of the most groundbreaking films ever made. Lang, a Austrian-German filmmaker, set out to create a dystopian fiction about two lovers living in a highly hierarchal society, one in which the ultra-rich prey on the poor to power a futuristic city in the year 2026. The work, a silent film, was one of the world’s first feature-length science fiction movies and it cost more than 5 million German Reichsmarks to make. That’s an estimated $24 million by today’s standards when you factor in adjustments for the now-defunct currency and inflation.
That made it an incredibly expensive film at the time, and yet it was a box office bomb. Many critics in 1927 considered Metropolis too long with an original runtime of 153 minutes, and subsequent restorations of the movie cut its duration down to between 90 and 120 minutes. Still, it exists as a pioneering piece of cinema and a highly influential progenitor for onscreen special effects and ambitious sci-fi narratives.
So an Esmail remake would be a sight to behold, potentially blending the best of Mr. Robot’s critiques of modern society and technology with a true dystopian setting not unlike the feverish fears of Rami Malek’s Elliot Alderson. The writer-director is said to be working with a plot similar to Lang’s original script, while Universal Cable Productions is financing the project, as it has for Mr. Robot. THR says each episode may have a budget as large as $10 million, but it’s still too early to say whether the miniseries will land at USA Network, or another cable channel or streaming service instead.