Posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
If one were to make a wishlist of writers to tackle a film adaptation of one of the biggest folktales in world literature, Neil Gaiman might well be at the top. In the comic series Sandman and many novels, the author has demonstrated a great aptitude for adapting, interpreting and embellishing classic tales.
Now he’ll adapt Journey to the West, one of the four great classical Chinese novels, for a massive Chinese 3D film production. James Cameron is along for the ride, too, acting as script and tech advisor.
Variety reports that producer Zhang Jizhong signed the very busy Neil Gaiman to adapt the novel, which tells of a monk and three protectors traveling to the ‘Western Kingdom’ (aka India) to obtain sacred texts. The text was shortened/adapted/translated into Monkey: A Folk Tale of China, and the text has been the inspiration for everything from comics to movies and anime, to an opera by Damon Albarn, a TV series produced by Zhang Jizhong and the recent video game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.
The production is designed to be massive: three feature films in 3D, each with $100m budget. The idea was to co-finance between China and Hollywood, but Zhang Jizhong says that most of the money will probably end up coming from China, “since now it is so easy to get funding here.” It will be shot in English, with actors from China and other countries.
The producer also says that Guillermo del Toro is high on the list of possible directors. “He has shown a lot of interest but he wants to see the treatment first. Obviously the more celebrated the director, the busier they are,” Zhang said.