Netflix’s search for a big genre series with international appeal to match HBO’s Game of Thrones and Amazon Prime’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series may have come to an end.
The streamer announced today that it has secured the rights to Liu Cixin’s international bestselling sci-fi books The Three-Body Problem (also known as the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy) and will adapt them into an English-language TV series. The big project has some appropriately big names attached to shepherd it.
Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will both write and executive produce the series, marking their first effort since inking an overall deal with Netflix last year. Alexander Woo (The Terror: Infamy) will write and executive produce as well, as will Bernadette Caulfield, who is a former Game of Thrones writer and is now President of Benioff and Weiss’s production company.
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson will serve as an executive producer via his T Street Productions alongside Ram Bergman. Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B Entertainment will executive produce as well. Original series author Liu Cixin and the novels’ English translator Ken Liu are both attached as consulting producers. This is notable given Netflix experienced some controversy last month when Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino exited Netflix’s live-action adaptation of that property.
“I have the greatest respect for and faith in the creative team adapting The Three-Body Problem for television audiences,” Cixin said in a statement. “I set out to tell a story that transcends time and the confines of nations, cultures, and races; one that compels us to consider the fate of humankind as a whole. It is a great honor as an author to see this unique sci-fi concept travel and gain fandom across the globe and I am excited for new and existing fans all over the world to discover the story on Netflix.”
The Three-Body Problem was first published in Chinese as a serial in 2006 and as a novel in 2008. Liu’s English translation was published by Tor Books in 2014. The book is set in an alternate history in which Earth is anticipating an invasion from the nearest solar system, which consists of three sun-like stars orbiting one another in an unstable “three-body problem.” The story is truncated through several timelines, one of which follows Ye Wenjie, a woman who is so disgusted with humanity after China’s Cultural Revolution that she tries to make first contact with aliens to encourage them to invade Earth.
The second and third novels in the trilogy are The Dark Forest and Death’s End. The saga is notable for its dedication to jargon-heavy scientific explanations of physics and space exploration. Cixin won a Hugo Award for The Three-Body Problem in 2015, becoming the first Asian author to do so.
Peter Friedlander, Netflix’s Vice President of Original Drama series, made the official announcement in a lengthy blog post on Netflix’s media site. It’s worth checking out for quotes from the project’s many big players, but a notable excerpt from Friedlander reads:
“Although it may seem like a familiar premise – the story of humanity’s first contact with an alien civilization – Chinese author Liu Cixin’s ability to interweave science with fiction made his vision of the future and extra-terrestrial contact feel more realistic than any other science fiction I’ve read. At the same time, I was also drawn in by the story of all of humanity vulnerable to the same external threat and how this both unifies and divides humans. Since my earliest days at Netflix working on series like Black Mirror and Sense8, I’ve sought out stories and POVs that are singular. This story felt singular, special – and eminently relatable. That’s why I’m pleased to announce that the Hugo Award-winning The Three-Body Problem and its two sequels are coming to Netflix as a series.”
Netflix secured the rights to the series from The Three-Body Universe and Yoozoo Group. Both Yoozoo and The Three-Body Universe remain attached as executive producers.
There is no word on when The Three-Body Problem will go into production or when a release date will be made public. Stay tuned for more info.