'The Three-Body Problem' TV Series At Amazon May Cost $1 Billion

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Amazon is thirsty. The multi-hyphenate company has been dominating online retail for years, but when it comes to building their Amazon Prime Video streaming service, they're still playing catch-up with heavy-hitters like Netflix and Hulu. But Amazon is desperate to get on their level, even if it means spending $1 billion on a single show.

Hoping to compete with the scale and popularity of HBO's fantasy hit Game of Thrones, Amazon is currently in talks to land the rights to adapt the popular Chinese book series The Three-Body Problem into a three season TV series. And it's this series that Amazon is looking to spend $1 billion on, making it one of the most expensive shows of all time.

The Three-Body Problem TV Series

News about The Three-Body Problem series adaptation comes from Financial Times.

For those who don't know, The Three-Body Problem is a sci-fi novel by Liu Cixin that was published in 2008. It's the first in a series of novels (followed by The Dark Forest and Death's End) that has come to be known as The Remembrance of Earth's Past Trilogy. Here's the official synopsis for the first chapter of the trilogy:

Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

It's easy to see why a series adaptation of The Three-Body Problem might be so expensive, but that's quite a hefty cost to incur for a series that might not captivate audiences. Even HBO started off by making Game of Thrones frugally, but as the popularity of the show grew, so did the budget. That's how networks and studios create successful shows without losing a truckload of money.

In this case, it seems like the built-in audience is giving Amazon more confidence in the potential series than if this were an original script in development. It also feels like Amazon is trying to do the same thing that movie studios have been doing in recent years by crafting titles and characters that make more of a conscious effort to appeal to China's prospective box office business. Even if movies don't end up being huge hits in the United States, they could still end up being lucrative thanks to China's 1.3 billion-plus audience.

Is Amazon Too Desperate for Success?

Honestly, this news feels like Amazon is desperately trying to force a hit, blockbuster-level series by throwing infinite amounts of money at it. In case you need any more evidence of that, let's not forget that they could possibly spend $500 million on a series adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic Lord of the Rings book series.

Perhaps the biggest problem is Amazon has their sights set on one of the most successful shows in history. It's one thing to shoot for the moon (AKA Game of Thrones), but it doesn't seem like Amazon has done enough successful test flights to even make that trip to the moon seem possible. Instead, they're rounding up everyday people as astronauts and telling them, "We're going to live on the fucking moon, guys." Now I'm going to abandon this metaphor before it gets out of hand.

Maybe Amazon has a recipe for success with this series. But spending that much money on a show feels like a huge risk. And even though Amazon has plenty of money to blow from all those Amazon Prime memberships we pay for to make sure we get packs of fake mustaches sent to us in at least two days, this still seems like a precarious endeavor for them to take on. But we'll see what happens.