Have you seen Snowpiercer yet this summer? No? You’re probably not alone.
While the stark, dystopian thriller about the remnants of humanity battling it out on a train was critically acclaimed, it was pretty overlooked earlier in the season. The film’s marketing budget was probably equivalent to a day’s worth of catering on the new Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.
Despite that, Snowpiercer is a thrilling sci-fi/action jaunt garnering more attention through Video On Demand, which has lead to more audiences finding it in theaters as well. With a great cast that includes Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Ed Harris, this intense film is well worth your time.
So, here’s a quick primer to the best sci-fi flick you need to see before September rolls around:
1. It’s Director Bong Joon-ho’s First English Film
Prior to Snowpiercer, Bong’s best-known film was probably 2006’s The Host, which has since become something of a cult classic.
2. Harvey Weinstein’s a Big Fan of Asian Cinema
Before the movie would become a hit in Korea – it’s become the country’s ninth-highest-grossing film in history – studio boss Harvey Weinstein found it and wanted to bring it to American audiences. “Harvey is a huge fan of Asian cinema and a tremendous fan of director Bong Joon-ho,” a studio source tells PEOPLE. Over the years, his friendship with Quentin Tarantino helped nurture his love for Asian films. “The bottom line,” says the source, “is the only way to characterize Harvey is as a big film nerd.” To find the perfect audience for the thinking man’s sci-fi film, Weinstein chose to release it under his company’s Radius subsidiary, which means …
3. The Film’s Already Out on VOD
Snowpiercer hit Video On Demand services two weeks after theaters – a schedule initially seen as a risky move. But the film has made $3.8 million over its first three weeks on VOD, putting it on track to become The Weinstein Company’s highest-grossing VOD release. That adds to its currently respectable $3.9 million theatrical gross. According to the Boston Globe, it was only released in 100 or so theaters across the U.S.
4. It’s Got a Diverse, Impressive Cast
Seriously, the film boasts Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt (a veteran of dystopian dramas after 1984’s, um, Nineteen Eighty-Four and 2005’s V for Vendetta), Ed Harris and – perhaps most important – Tilda Swinton, who turns in one of the most bizarre and unnerving performances of her career, in a role that was originally meant for John C. Reilly. She’s said she based the performance in part on Margaret Thatcher.
5. It’s Based on a French Comic Book
Bong read the original work, Le Transperceneige, while working on The Host, and some of the film’s visuals – illustrations that appear of passengers in the tail of the train – were done by the graphic novel’s original artist, Jean-Marc Rochette. The graphic novel’s own journey to a broader readership was almost as difficult as Snowpiercer‘s trip to the U.S.: “Outside of France,” Bong told Entertainment Weekly, “it was only published in Korea.” Le Transperceneige was finally published in English earlier this year.