O C F I T B L O G Business Opportunity Inside ‘3 Body Problem,’ Netflix’s ambitious adaptation of the Chinese sci-fi epic

Inside ‘3 Body Problem,’ Netflix’s ambitious adaptation of the Chinese sci-fi epic

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David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creative minds behind the television version of Game of Thrones, have a new show coming to Netflix: 3 Body Problem.

The show is based on Liu Cixin’s bestselling trilogy, Remembrance of Earth’s Past, a sci-fi epic about an alien invasion.

3 Body Problem debuts on Netflix March 21. However, this week at SXSW in Austin, Fast Company got an inside look at what went into the show during a panel discussion, featuring Benioff, Weiss, and Alexander Woo, who all served as cocreators, writers, and executive producers on the show, as well as the show’s director, Derek Tsang.

Speaking on the creation of the show, Woo said that the group all came at the project with the desire to preserve the feeling and spirit of what it’s like to read the novels. “It’s this feeling of awe that comes across you,” Woo said. “You have no idea what’s coming next.”

[Photo: Maggie Boyd for Fast Company]

He said the show starts as historical fiction. However, it sometimes becomes a mystery, and there are also hints of science fiction, all of which blend together in an exciting way.

The group acknowledged that television is a very different medium than books, so the adaptation for TV might be a bit different than what some of the books’ hardcore fans expect. However, the TV adaptation was done with the blessing of Cixin.

One big difference is that the books are focused on Chinese characters, while the show has a more international cast.

“I think the hardest thing for us that we pulled through was recreating China in the ’60s in London . . . in a parking lot,” said Tsang. “We really threw our mind and heart into it, and I think it really shows in the show that we spent a lot of time and effort making it as authentic as possible.”

One other interesting detail: The group only has the rights to the English-language adaptation of the books. At the same time, they were shooting the English version, another group was creating a Chinese-language version for TV that was a bit truer to the original text.

“It’s pretty rare if you’re a film student or if you’re a film enthusiast, the same source material is being adapted at the same time and is out there on the air at the same time in two different languages with two totally different approaches to the material,” said Tsang.

Finally, if any fans familiar with Benioff and Weiss’s work were wondering, the group did make one promise: Despite the name of the show, 3 Body Problem, there will be a lot less nudity than we saw in Game of Thrones.

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