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SYFY WIRE Sam Esmail

'Metropolis': 'Mr. Robot' creator Sam Esmail to adapt Fritz Lang's 1927 classic into Apple TV+ series

Esmail will write, direct, executive produce, and even showrun the entire thing.

By Josh Weiss
Sam Esmail Metropolis Header GETTY

Following several years of development, Fritz Lang's groundbreaking sci-fi masterpiece, Metropolis, is finally coming to the small screen by way of Mr. Robot creator, Sam Esmail. The television project, which was first announced all the way back in 2016, has officially landed at Apple TV+, the subscription streaming service announced Tuesday.

Esmail will write write, direct, executive produce, and even showrun the endeavor via his overall deal with Universal Content Productions (a division of Universal Studio Group). Yeah, it's quite clearly a passion project for the guy. Chad Hamilton — who previously worked with Esmail on Mr. Robot for USA and Homecoming for Amazon — is also on board as an executive producer. Not much else is known about the adaptation, which is described by the official release as "a new drama."

"I'm working on the pilot as we speak," Esmail said during an interview with Collider in early 2021. "I'm pretty excited about it. I'm not gonna get into too many details, but I think there'll be some news coming out on that soon."

First released in 1927, Metropolis is widely regarded as one of the most influential science fiction films ever made. A product of the silent and German Expressionism eras, the movie explores the class divide in a futuristic, albeit dystopian, city inspired by the aesthetic of Art Deco. It was also the most expensive project ever made at the time with a budget of $1.6 million. That's peanuts by modern standards, but for the 1920s, that chunk of change is equivalent to just over $22 million in 2022.

Its creative impact can be felt in the numerous genre titles that followed over the decades, including Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Steven Spielberg's Minority Report. If you look at some of Ralph McQuarrie's early concept art for Star Wars: A New Hope, you'll see that C-3PO's design was initially based on the Maschinenmensch. Even Superman's hometown was named Metropolis because his comic book creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were apparently fans of Lang.

The filmmaker once claimed that he was inspired by the New York City skyline, stating: “I looked into the streets – the glaring lights and the tall buildings — and there I conceived Metropolis. The buildings seemed to be a vertical sail, scintillating and very light… suspended in the dark sky to dazzle, distract, and hypnotize”.

Universal Studio Group & SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal