Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor first teased us with the idea of making a TV mini-series about his album, Year Zero, as far back as 2008. The idea of exploring the world after a nuclear war between the United States and Iran gained popularity and attracted the likes of David Fincher and the head honchos over at HBO and BBC. There was even confirmation by Reznor himself that the series was in the development stages at HBO and BBC, but even that update was five years ago.
What is Year Zero?
If you know nothing about Reznor's sixth studio album, it was definitely more of an event than a typical album release. With the overall concept as well as the music itself, Reznor painted a post-war picture of the year 2022 in the wake of a nuclear war between the United States and Iran. He introduced us to the fictional "Bureau of Morality" which was responsible for removing actions of free speech, free enterprise, and anything deemed unacceptable by the existing government and leadership. If you didn't agree with the Bureau, you could join the "Art is Resistance" movement which was basically an underground reaction to the Bureau's fascist views and censorship. Call the album concept as a whole an artistic reaction to what was going on in the United States in 2007 as George W. Bush's administration was drawing to a close and the country was still fighting a longstanding War on Terror, but Year Zero was definitely an interesting picture to look at. That is if you could connect the dots and understand what Reznor was trying to say.
Year Zero was a pretty big hit with fans and music critics. The music itself was solid enough and was continued proof of Reznor's capability to evolve with each album, but the concept was what resonated the most. The effort put into the overall marketing with teaser trailers, posters, graffiti art, secret fan events, random phone numbers containing song teasers, websites, and an innovative tour titled Lights in the Sky which featured brand new, state of the art lighting effects. It's no secret that Reznor has always stayed up to date with emerging technology, but with this project he took things to another level. For a full timeline of the Year Zero reveal you can head over to the NIN Wiki.
"It's the soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist."
So where does television come into play with all of this?
Well, when Reznor teamed up with Atticus Ross to create the score for David Fincher's The Social Network, his presence in Hollywood became more known than it already was. When the duo took home a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for their work and were confirmed to be re-teaming for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a lot of people began to wonder why the concept of Year Zero hadn't been made into a movie or a mini-series. When Reznor officially announced to fans in 2010 that a mini-series was in development at HBO and BBC with Carnivale writer Daniel Knauf, it seemed like the vision would come full circle. We would finally get to see what is described in the songs, as well as a deeper exploration of the images relayed throughout the Lights in the Sky tour.
2011, no news. 2012, no news. 2013, NIN releases a new album and goes on tour. 2014, NIN tours the world and Reznor scores Gone Girl with Atticus Ross, but no news on Year Zero. 2015, nothing. What gives, Trent?
Many people were and still are confused as to why a great sci-fi concept like this is just wasting away in development. Despite what we may think, movies and TV concepts do take a long time. Some projects take longer than others while some seem to surface right away. With a concept this great and this intricate, it very well might be taking this long just so they can get it right. Either that or it could just be because Trent Reznor is a busy man. He is married with two small children, he's toured the world numerous times, he partnered with and helped develop Apple Music, and he is supposedly working on a tour DVD/Blu-Ray for the 2013 Tension tour. For all we know, he's secretly working on a new album or a new film score, so he's got a lot on his plate. It's also worth mentioning that a lot of Reznor's ideas don't come to light. Any fan who remembers the scrapped Tapeworm project can attest to that, so if Year Zero never shows up on HBO or BBC it will be unfortunate but it might just be the way the cards fall.