EXCLUSIVE: Sam Esmail’s years-in-the-works adaptation of Fritz Lang’s classic 1927 science fiction film metropolis has become one of the most notorious victims of the growing insecurity in Hollywood caused by labor unrest amid economic headwinds.
The big-budget UCP series for Apple TV+, which was being prepared in Australia, has finally been cancelled. The crew have just been informed that production on the ambitious project, which was slated for its summer launch, is not going ahead.
UCP confirmed this to Deadline metropolis was scrapped. “Printing costs and uncertainty surrounding the ongoing strike led to this difficult decision,” a studio representative said.
metropolis had been in limbo for seven weeks. Because production drafts for the scripts for the large-scale, special-effects-heavy series were not ready before the writers’ strike began on May 2, finalizing the budget and other key elements of pre-production was delayed.
The series was partially cast, with Briana Middleton taking the lead and Lindy Booth being chosen for a lead role.
Due to timing, UCP faced mounting costs associated with advancing production start, building and performing extensive sets, labor and VFX work – while due to the writers’ strike (and the prospect of a possible SAG) UCP didn’t know when filming could start -AFTRA strike). After weighing the money spent to date and the future risk, UCP decided not to continue the series and notified their partners at Apple TV+.
Filming was set to take place in the state of Victoria, where the April 2022 announcement said it would create nearly 4,000 jobs and utilize one of the world’s largest “virtual production” infrastructures.
Australian company VicScreen lured the series to the state through its Victorian Screen Incentive grant. It was expected that this would be the first of several NBCU projects in the region, which would represent an A$416 million ($310 million) injection into the local economy.
metropolis was a passion project for Mister Robot Creator email. He was the writer, director and executive producer of the eight-part series he worked on for more than seven years. The much-anticipated project landed with a bulk order on Apple TV+ last year. Esmail served as executive producer on his deal with UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, and Chad Hamilton on Anonymous Content.
Directed by Lang and written by Thea Von Harbou, based on the latter’s 1925 novel, the original film is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the mayor, and Maria, a worker saint to save the to bridge the great class divide in their town and bring the workers together with Joh Fredersen, the town lord.