It’s a race between media giants Netflix and Tencent, which are simultaneously producing rival adaptations of Liu Cixin’s award-winning science fiction trilogy Remembrance of Earth’s Past. Most know the series by the title of its first book, The Three-Body Problem (三体).
Tencent has yet to announce an official release date since dropping a trailer for its television series in November 2021. On the other hand, Netflix has promised fans that its live-action series — produced by Alexander Woo and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — will be released sometime in 2023.
Additionally, Netflix released a behind-the-scenes teaser for its adaptation on September 24.
“People who have read the books will be stunned to see how it’s been realized in the show,” says actress Jess Hong in the teaser. “Visually, it’s a beast.”
Filmed in China and the U.K. and featuring a cast from 11 different countries, the show follows humanity from its first point of contact with extraterrestrial life until the end of the world.
Actor Saamer Usmani called the series “[possibly] the most universal show imaginable.”
Published from 2008 to 2010, Remembrance of Earth’s Past jumps back and forth between China’s Cultural Revolution and humanity’s future encounters with aliens.
There have been previous attempts to create on-screen adaptations of the popular series. In 2014, a company called The Three-Body Universe even produced a Minecraft animation of the trilogy.
Yoozoo later sold Netflix the rights to produce an English-language adaptation of the trilogy. However, the latter’s adaptation has experienced its fair share of drama. In December 2020, Yoozoo CEO Lin Qi died after allegedly being poisoned by a colleague while working on the Netflix series.
Though some Chinese netizens were (and still are) unimpressed by Netflix’s casting choices, calling out the shortage of Chinese actors, many have also expressed their excitement for the adaptation, primarily since little is known about Tencent’s adaptation, which was supposed to have been released this month.
“I want to see Netflix’s The Three-Body Problem right away. Of the world’s streaming platforms, only Netflix has the ability and aesthetic value [to do the books justice],” boldly exclaimed one user of the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo.
Another commented, “The Netflix preview has come out [and] I’m looking forward to it. If the Tencent version doesn’t come out soon, it will be completely beaten by Netflix.”
Cover image designed by Haedi Yue
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