Netflix has officially greenlit Three-Body Problem: a sci-fi drama created by True Blood‘s Alexander Woo and Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Three-Body Problem is an adaptation of the award-winning Chinese book trilogy of the same name, written by Liu Cixin. Netflix struck a deal with The Three-Body Universe and Yoozoo Group for the rights to produce an English-language adaptation of the books. The sci-fi drama will be produced by Game of Thrones duo’s Bighead Littlehead production company and will be one of the many projects in their overall deal with Netflix after the feature film Metal Lords.
In an official press-release Benioff and Weiss offered their comment on adapting the Chinese book series into television:
“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. We look forward to spending the next years of our lives bringing this to life for audiences around the world.”
Alexander Woo added:
“It’s a privilege to be adapting one of the great masterpieces of Chinese science-fiction. The Three-Body Problem trilogy combines so many things I love: rich, multi-layered characters and true existential stakes – all told as an elegant and deeply human allegory. I’m thrilled to kick off my partnership with Netflix with this accomplished creative team.”
Attached to the sci-fi project as executive producers are also Star Wars and Knives Out director Rian Johnson as well as actors Brad Pitt and Rosamund Pike. It is currently unknown whether Rian Johnson will also serve as a director. Johnson is no stranger to television as he helmed the iconic Breaking Bad episode “Ozymandias” several years ago.
In September 2020, Three-Body Problem became the subject of a controversy as five US senators sent a letter to the Netflix president Ted Sarandos accusing the streaming service of normalizing the Chinese government’s brutal incarceration of more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims. The reason for this were the comments made by author Liu Cixin condoning Chinese government’s actions.
Netflix responded shortly after, firmly standing their ground on moving ahead with the project while detaching themselves from Cixin’s controversial comments:
Mr. Liu is the author of the books, not the creator of this series. Mr. Liu’s comments are not reflective of the views of Netflix or of the show’s creators, nor are they part of the plot or themes of the show. We do not agree with his comments, which are entirely unrelated to his book or this Netflix show. Mr. Liu is a Chinese citizen living in China – he is the author of the books, not the creator of this Netflix series. The creators are David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of Game of Thrones, and Alexander Woo, executive producer/writer on the series True Blood.
What is the plot of Three-Body Problem?
Written by Chinese author Liu Cixin, the three books in his trilogy tell the story of the first human contact with alien life from the planet called Trisolaris and the conflict between the two species that starts to brew over many years. Without getting into major spoilers, one of the main leads, Ye Wenjie is a scientist who gets disillusioned by the government and humanity in general and willingly causes the Trisolarians to discover Earth’s location and prepare for invasion. It would take them a couple of centuries to get to Earth so humans still have time.
Years later, Ye is the leader of a secret organization of alien invasion supporters. The group has broken into two factions: those who want Trisolarians to invade and forcibly improve humanity and those who want the Trisolarians to exterminate humanity. The aliens on their part have been conduction various forms of espionage over the years causing mysterious cases of deaths, suicides and disappearances of key scientific figures. As the years pass, the conflict becomes closer and tenser.
The Three-Body Problem, the story of humanity’s first contact with an alien civilization inspired by @cixinliu’s renowned novel, will be adapted as a Netflix series from David Benioff, D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo. pic.twitter.com/Dily05j2Vw
— Netflix Geeked (@NetflixGeeked) September 1, 2020
The book author himself, Liu Cixin, is very excited and proud of this partnership with Netflix:
I have the greatest respect for and faith in the creative team adapting ‘The Three-Body Problem’ for television audiences. 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.
Three-Body Problem is an ambitious large-scale story with many interesting characters, locations and plotlines. With luck, this will be a very big hit for Netflix.
Is Three-Body Problem getting a spinoff? What is Netflix’s The Dark Forest?
In issue 1235 of Production Weekly we noticed a curious entry for a project named The Dark Forest with the exact same production team as Three-Body Problem. Benioff, Weiss, Woo, Johnson, Pitt, Pike, everyone. The Dark Forest is the name of the second novel in the Three-Body Problem trilogy from Liu Cixin. The project even has a logline that pretty much presents itself as a logline of the second book:
In The Dark Forest, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion-in just four centuries’ time. The aliens’ human collaborators may have been defeated, but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth’s defense plans are totally exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret. This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four men enormous resources to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists, but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he’s the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead.
As Liu Cixin’s story takes place over a vast amount of decades and even centuries, we are thinking that The Dark Forest is a second series in this universe and down the line, it may not even be the last.
Who is cast in Three-Body Problem?
On October 29, 2021, Netflix announced 12 primary cast members for the series. They are: Jovan Adepo (Watchmen), John Bradley (Game of Thrones), Tsai Chin (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones), Elza González (Baby Driver), Jess Hong (Inked), Marlo Kelly (Dare Me), Alex Sharp (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time); Sea Shimooka (Arrow), Zine Tseng, Saamer Usmani (Succession), Benedict Wong (Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness).
How many episodes the first season will Three-Body Problem have?
No official number has been given, but it would be safe to say that the first season of Three-Body Problem may have either eight or 10 one-hour episodes as per the most common Netflix numbers.
What’s the production status on Three-Body Problem?
Netflix’s Three Body Problem is currently set to enter production in November 2021 in the United Kingdom and China. Filming is planned to span from November 2021 until August 2022 according to issue 1265 of Production Weekly.
When will Three-Body Problem be released on Netflix?
We have no official information on the release date of Three-Body Problem, but since the first season is set to wrap in August 2022, it won’t be until early 2023 when it drops on Netflix.