Netflix Sci-Fi Epic Remake Sees Original Version Release On Rival Streamer

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

In a strategic move to beat Netflix to the punch, Peacock has secured the exclusive streaming rights for the Chinese adaptation of Liu Cixin’s acclaimed sci-fi novel, The Three-Body Problem. The announcement comes just weeks before the anticipated launch of Netflix’s own version of the novel, titled 3 Body Problem.

Based On The Award-Winning Novel

Written by Liu Cixin, The Three-Body Problem takes place during China’s tumultuous Cultural Revolution when a covert military initiative launches signals into space in a bid to make contact with extraterrestrial beings. Responding to the transmission, a civilization on the verge of collapse from beyond the stars seizes the signal, plotting an invasion of Earth.

Competing Adaptations

netflix the three-body problem feature

Last year, Tencent produced the Chinese adaptation of the book, which was released internationally. Soon after, Netflix announced a big-budget Hollywood remake of The Three-Body Problem, slated to release on March 21. Unfortunately for the streamer, rival company Peacock is taking advantage of Netflix’s PR to garner excitement for the Chinese adaptation that will soon be streaming on the Peacock platform.

Peacock will stream all 30 episodes of The Three-Body Problem beginning on February 10. 

The Chinese Original Beat Netflix To The Market

three-body problem netflix

Peacock will stream all 30 episodes of The Three-Body Problem beginning on February 10. 

While Tencent’s release coincides with the Lunar New Year festivities, it’s clear that the timing is also strategic, aiming to gain momentum ahead of Netflix’s highly anticipated adaptation slated for release on March 21.

Peacock’s Gamble

According to an NBCUniversal press release, Peacock aims to capitalize on the buzz surrounding Netflix’s English adaptation by offering audiences the chance to experience the original Chinese-language version of The Three-Body Problem with English subtitles before the Hollywood rendition hits screens.

Wildly Different Adaptations

Despite sharing source material, the two adaptations diverge significantly in their approaches. Tencent’s rendition stays true to the novel’s roots, focusing on Chinese characters grappling with an alien invasion, albeit criticized by some for its ultra-faithful adaptation. On the other hand, Netflix’s version of The Three-Body Problem, spearheaded by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss, along with Alexander Woo of True Blood fame, expands the narrative to include an international cast and takes liberties to cater to a mainstream audience.

Two Different Views On China

dark matter

A notable difference between the adaptations is their portrayal of the Chinese Cultural Revolution—a key aspect of the storyline. While Tencent’s version of The Three-Body Problem sidesteps the brutality of that era, Netflix’s adaptation embraces it more authentically.

Fans Debate How Faithful Is Too Faithful

The release of Tencent’s Three-Body Problem series last year sparked fervent debate among fans of Cixin’s Hugo Award-winning novel. Some appreciated Tencent’s true adaptation, while others found it tedious to be so faithful to the material. With both versions soon available for streaming, many fans are eager to compare the adaptations.

Which Will The Fans Prefer?

Benioff reflected on the contrasting approaches, likening it to the early days of Game of Thrones when audiences clamored for a literal adaptation of every page. He expressed curiosity about how audiences would respond to the faithfulness of adaptations, and a sentiment echoed in the varied reception anticipated for the two Three-Body Problem interpretations.

China Vs. Hollywood

With Peacock’s acquisition of the Tencent adaptation, the streaming platform aims to offer viewers a unique opportunity to explore the rich world of The Three-Body Problem ahead of what promises to be a riveting showdown between the two adaptations.