In 2016, it was announced that Hollywood would be tackling Dmitry Glukhovsky’s dark and dystopian Metro 2033 novel – which served as the basis for the game, too. That movie has now been cancelled, because, Glukhovsky says, the film’s producers wanted to “Americanise” it.
Instead of being set in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, MGM’s pegged scriptwriter F. Scott Frazier wanted to set it within Washington DC instead. That’s a frankly awful decision, because its location is so central to what makes it work.
“The project with MGM optioning this book and developing a script had brought us to nothing and the rights reverted to me,” Glukhovsky said to VG247. “So currently we are speaking with a new set of producers about a possible adaptation but this is a very long and difficult process. I’m still optimistic. We’ll see if the release of Metro Exodus can push the IP across a little bit the oceans and see how that works.”
Changing continents would mean changing the enemies – and with Washington’s ethnic compostion skewing African American, it’s “dark ones” take on a vastly different meaning.
“A lot of things didn’t work out in Washington DC,” Glukhovsky said. “In Washington DC, Nazis don’t work, Communists don’t work at all, and the Dark Ones don’t work. Washington DC is a black city basically. That’s not at all the allusion I want to have, it’s a metaphor of general xenophobia but it’s not a comment on African Americans at all. So it didn’t work.”
“They had to replace the Dark Ones with some kind of random beasts and as long as the beasts don’t look human, the entire story of xenophobia doesn’t work which was very important to me as a convinced internationalist. They turned it into a very generic thing.”
Glukhovsky said MGM wanted the film to be set in the US because “Americans have a reputation for liking stories about America.”
“With Metro Last Light and Metro 2033—the books and the games—selling millions and millions of copies worldwide, it’s probably not as improbable now that people would accept a story happening in Moscow because that’s going to be the unique selling point,” he said. “We’ve seen the American version of apocalypse a lot of times and the audience that like the genre are educated and saturated and not really wishing to get anymore of that.”
And he’s damned right. I think we’ve all seen enough of a post-apocalyptic US. Taking the premise and giving it a fresher spin, showing the bleak determination of Russian folk in an untenable situation seems the better option.
So while I’m sad there’s no Metro 2033 movie coming any time soon, it’s not coming for the right reasons.
Last Updated: December 11, 2018