It’s been a year since David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, creators of Game of Thrones, struck a mega overall deal with Netflix. Now they’ve set their first TV world-building project at the streamer and the first drama they’ll write since their HBO opus ended.
The pair are adapting Chinese author Liu Cixin’s sci-fi book trilogy The Three-Body Problem, the story of humanity’s first contact with an alien civilization.
Benioff and Weiss have put together quite a list of creative partners for the series adaptation.
Alexander Woo, co-creator of AMC’s The Terror: Infamy, who signed an overall deal with Netflix in February, will write and exec produce alongside the GoT pair. Rian Johnson, director of Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi and Knives Out, will exec produce alongside his producing partner Ram Bergman. Plan B, the production company run by Brad Pitt, Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardner, will exec produce alongside Rosamund Pike and Robie Uniacke via their company Primitive Streak.
Lin Qi, chairman of rights-holders Yoozoo Group and the Three-Body Universe, and Zhao Jilong, VP of the Three-Body Universe, also will exec produce alongside Bernadette Caulfield, the Game of Thrones exec producer who was recently installed as president of Benioff & Weiss’ production company, and Nena Rodrigue, President of Television for Johnson and Bergman’s production company, T-Street.
Author Liu has joined as a consulting producer alongside Ken Liu, who wrote the English translation for The Three-Body Problem and Death’s End.
Like Game of Thrones, The Three-Body Problem — which consists of three books Remembrance of Earth’s Past, The Dark Forest and Death’s End — is set against a sprawling backdrop. The first book tells the story of Ye Wenjie, who, following her father’s death at the hands of the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, attempts to help aliens invade Earth, while different factions on Earth plan different ways of welcoming the extra-terrestrials. It originally was serialized in Science Fiction World in 2006 before being published in 2008.
Benioff and Weiss, who are exec producing Netflix’s Amanda Peet-penned, Sandra Oh-fronted half-hour dramedy The Chair, said, “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.”
For Netflix, it will be overseen by Peter Friedlander, VP Original Series Drama, one of the streamer’s first original-content hires who has looked after series including House of Cards, Mindhunter and Narcos.
Friedlander said that when he read the trilogy for the first time, “it changed what science fiction meant to me forever.”
“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,” he said. “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.”
Liu Cixin said: “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.”
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.”