Thrones creators to adapt Chinese sci-fi trilogy for Netflix

Los Angeles – The creators of Game Of Thrones will team up with Star Wars director Rian Johnson and Hollywood actor-producer Brad Pitt for an ambitious new Chinese sci-fi adaptation, Netflix announced Tuesday.

Liu Cixin’s bestselling book trilogy The Three-Body Problem, which tells the epic story of humanity’s first contact with an alien civilisation, will become an international series for the streaming giant.

“Liu Cixin’s trilogy is the most ambitious science-fiction series we’ve read, taking readers on a journey from the 1960s until the end of time, from life on our pale blue dot to the distant fringes of the universe,” Thrones duo David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who will co-write, said in a statement.

They will be joined as executive producers by Johnson, who oversaw 2017’s The Last Jedi, as well as Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment company.

Prolific Chinese science fiction author Liu said the apocalyptic series “transcends time and the confines of nations, cultures and races; one that compels us to consider the fate of humankind as a whole”.

It imagines an alternate history in which a female Chinese astrophysicist caught up in the Cultural Revolution makes contact with an alien civilisation, prompting global fears of an invasion.

Book cover: The Three-Body Problem by Liu CixinTOR BOOKS

Fans include former US president Barack Obama, who once said the “wildly imaginative” trilogy made “my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty – not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade!” 

Another of Liu’s works, The Wandering Earth, was given the big-screen treatment last year.

Billed as China’s first space-age blockbuster, it became one of the country’s highest grossing movies with over US$690 million domestically.

Thrones showrunners Benioff and Weiss signed a multi-year deal with Netflix last August to write, produce and direct new series and films.

Tuesday’s announcement is the first confirmed project to emerge from that deal, which was reportedly worth a nine-figure sum and followed an intense bidding war between major studios.

The pair spent around a decade on HBO’s fantasy epic Thrones, which demolished audience records, scooped an unprecedented number of Emmys for a fictional show, and redefined weekly “event TV”.

Announcing the deal last year, Benioff and Weiss said they shared a love for “the same books” as several Netflix executives.

“The first time I read The Three-Body Problem trilogy (Remembrance Of Earth’s Past), it changed what science fiction meant to me forever,” said Netflix original series drama vice-president Peter Friedlander.

Benioff, Weiss and the other producers exchange frequent e-mails and “discuss the books compulsively”, he added. - AFP