Netflix is always in the market for something new and exciting, whether it be a movie or possible series. They seem to have landed a big fish with The Three Body Problem, a series that is based on the novel trilogy by Chinese writer Liu Cixin.
THE THREE BODY PROBLEM
So, what exactly is The Three Body Problem and who is Liu Cixin?
The Three Body Problem is just the first novel in the trilogy created by Cixin back in 2008, that finally saw the light of day in America with its English translation in 2014. Cixin followed up his best-selling novel with two more, The Dark Forest, which got its English translation in 2015, and Death’s End, which received its English translation in 2016.
Liu Cixin is a well-known Chinese author with a number of novels on his resume as well as many more works of short fiction. He has also won numerous awards for his work on the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy (aka The Three Body Problem trilogy) to include a Hugo Award, a Locus Award, and an Arthur C. Clarke Award. Cixin is also a nine-time winner of China’s Galaxy Award.
FROM NOVEL TO SERIES
It is always tricky when studios attempt to turn a novel into a movie or TV series. Sometimes they hit but ofttimes they are major failures (Hello, The Dark Tower). Some stories need time to be told, hence the TV series route, and trying to speed them up to fit into a 2-hour feature film many times spells disaster.
In bringing The Three Body Problem, as well as the possibility of the other two novels, to the small screen, Netflix has the luxury of time. The world that Cixin has created is vast, the story layered, so a deep dive is what’s needed for this story.
The Three Body Problem tells its story in flash-forwards, flashbacks, and present time. The basic premise finds Earth waiting for an invasion from its closest star system, which in Cixin’s world consists of three solar-type stars orbiting in an unstable three body system.
The Three Body Problem story within Cixin’s world is filled with politics, war, love, loss, and some nasty aliens. It is about Earth’s first human contact with alien life and the conflict that arises over the years. It is all ripe for an in-depth science fiction TV series.
WHAT’S THIS GoT CONNECTION?
Producers, showrunners, and writers, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, are bringing The Three Body Problem to Netflix. The duo is best known for the Emmy Award-winning series Game of Thrones. Based on their success with the hit series, Benioff and Weiss were able to grab a major deal with the streaming service. The Three Body Problem represents their first project that came from that deal.
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Game of Thrones opened the door for many. It made stars out of numerous actors, shined more light on author George R.R. Martin, whose A Song of Ice and Fire novels were the basis of GoT. While GoT was a massive hit for HBO, fans felt a major sense of letdown throughout the series’ eighth and final season.
Many fans felt that Benioff and Weiss failed to deliver on Martin’s previous storylines while claim the show began to decline when the pair ran out of source material. Regardless, the success of the show was a boon for Benioff and Weiss as they were poached by Netflix for The Three Body Problem. The streaming service lured them away from HBO will a $200 million carrot.
The deal is an overall film and TV deal, one that Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos was thrilled to announce. “We are thrilled to welcome master storytellers David Benioff and Dan Weiss to Netflix,” Sarandos said in a statement via The Hollywood Reporter. “They are a creative force and have delighted audiences worldwide with their epic storytelling. We can’t wait to see what their imaginations will bring to our members.” The Three Body Problem will be part of that exciting deal.
Benioff and Weiss were just as pleased (they had two hundred million reasons to be) but also were thankful for their HBO experience. “We’ve had a beautiful run with HBO for more than a decade and we’re grateful to everyone there for always making us feel at home,” they said in their joint statement through The Hollywood Reporter. “Over the past few months we’ve spent many hours talking to Cindy Holland and Peter Friedlander, as well as Ted Sarandos and Scott Stuber. We remember the same shots from the same ’80s movies; we love the same books; we’re excited about the same storytelling possibilities. Netflix has built something astounding and unprecedented, and we’re honored they invited us to join them.”
ANY OTHER BIG NAMES INVOLVED?
Rian Johnson would be the first big name to jump out at fans. He is teaming up with his producing partner Ram Bergman to help bring The Three Body Problem to Netflix. Alexander Woo is another big name. His producing credits include The Terror: Infamy and True Blood.
A key component on board is the author himself. Cixin Liu has joined the team as a consulting producer and with him, he brings Ken Liu, who wrote the English translation of both The Three Body Problem and Death’s End. Their involvement is sure to keep the story’s spirit close to the novels.
Cixin, in his own statement, expressed gratitude and excitement for his partnership with Netflix as well as the creative team bringing his vision to life. He also spoke about how honored he was, as an author, to not only gain fans across the globe but to also show those who may not know The Three Body Problem a new world for them to discover on Netflix.
WHAT ABOUT STARS FOR THE THREE BODY PROBLEM?
As The Three Body Problem was only recently announced, Benioff and Weiss are currently searching for stars. One star, also just recently announced, looks to have a big role in the series.
Eiza Gonzalez is the first actor attached to the project. We exclusively broke that news here at Giant Freakin Robot before it was later confirmed by Deadline. The Mexican actress and singer has been enjoying a rise to fame lately first with Baby Driver, then following that up with Welcome to Marwen, Alita: Battle Angel, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Bloodshot, and Godzilla vs. Kong.
And recently, some other casting decisions were announced as well. Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange), Jovan Adepo (Watchmen), and Tsai Chin (Shang-Chi) were all added. And in a little nod to Game of Thrones, Liam Cunningham and John Bradley are on board as well.
WHEN WILL THE THREE BODY PROBLEM PREMIERE?
Unfortunately, the project does not have a premiere date. As it is in the early stages, the first episode hasn’t even gone in front of the cameras. As more details emerge concerning The Three-Body Problem, Giant Freakin Robot will be here to pass it along.
COMPETITION AND CONTROVERSY
While Netflix has presumably been hard at work on their much-ballyhooed adaptation of The Three-Body Problem, some issues have popped up. For starters, it turns out the American streaming giant is going to be competing with a parallel adaptation of Cixin Liu’s epic work. Tencent, one of China’s largest streaming platform, has been developing their own version of The Three-Body Problem and have already released a trailer for it. It will be directed by Leon Yang Lei and star Zhang Luyi, Yu Hewei, Chen Jin, and Wang Ziwen. Reportedly, filming began in 2020 and the initial expectation was for a release the next year; while details are a little scarce, it can be assumed the Covid-19 global pandemic interfered with the production and caused delays. Here’s the trailer:
This causes some issues for Netflix, as The Three-Body Problem is a beloved work in China and there is bound to be some cultural aggression in competing adaptations. The Netflix adaptation also ran into issues when Yoozoo chairman Lin Qi and Cixin Liu publicly supported the Chinese government’s treatment of its Uighur minority in Xinjiang. United States lawmakers called on Netflix to stop the production as they claimed it would tacitly support those actions. Then Lin fell seriously ill. He was rapidly hospitalized and died; Chinese law enforcement as of last reports were treating it as a suspected poisoning.