April 10-11, 2021
Written by Nena Serafimovska
Fans of Justin Cronin’s post-apocalyptic horror fantasy trilogy The Passage will be ecstatic to hear that a full TV adaptation from Fox may not be too far away.
A 2017 pilot met with a lukewarm reaction from company execs, so Fox has instead opted to create a retooled pilot, with the aim of having it ready for their May upfront presentation. Shooting is taking place this month, in Atlanta – an intriguing choice, given the city’s close association with The Walking Dead.
Original director Marcos Siega was replaced with Jason Ensler, with a shake-up also taking place across the production and writing teams. However, most of the original cast has remained; some of the notable names include Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Saved By The Bell) as Brad Wolgast, Saniyya Sidney (American Horror Story: Roanoke) as lead character Amy Bellafonte, Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage) as Dr. Lila Kylie, and Jamie McShane (Sons Of Anarchy) as Dr. Tim Fanning, aka patient zero. Unfortunately, Genesis Rodriguez, B.J. Britt and Jennifer Ferrin have all been removed from the new-look pilot, their roles having been replaced with new characters rather than simply recast.
Set across a period of more than a century, The Passage spans sci-fi, fantasy and horror. The book series details the lead up to and fall-out of a top-secret government experiment, Project Noah. Project Noah was originally intended to develop an immunity-boosting drug based on the virus carried by a unique species of bats from South America. Highly contagious and volatile, the virus triggers a mutation in all of its subjects, transforming them – and subsequently, the majority of the human race – into grotesque monsters. Unlike Twilight, these vampires aren’t benign, sparkly high school students – they’re far more akin to the terrifying, sub-human beasts of Old World folklore.
Much of the action focuses on Amy Bellafonte, one of the drug’s original test subjects. She assimilates the virus and becomes neither human nor vampire, while retaining the ability to communicate with both. Through her, readers – and hopefully soon, viewers – meet generations of humans attempting to survive in this apocalyptic world, all while battling against monstrous creatures of the night.
These pilots aren’t the first time there’s been an attempt to bring The Passenger from page to screen. Though the novel was released in 2010, the adaptation rights had already been sold in 2007, three years before publication. Initially, film adaptations were planned, but the advent of prestige TV like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones has meant that a small-screen adaptation was pursued instead. Given the subject matter, it’s not hard to imagine that Fox have been inspired by the recent cult success of The Strain.
Though this retooling would superficially appear to indicate a troubled production, such teething issues are actually quite common for TV series and movies alike. And with Game Of Thrones signalling its final season, there’s certainly room in the market for a new player to grab the attention of the scores of mainstream fantasy fans. If Fox can successfully translate the epic timeline, rich character development and disturbing monsters of the book into a cohesive TV experience, The Passage could easily be the next big crossover phenomenon.