That would be a loaded headline, ladies and gentlemen.
It’s being reported that one of China’s major television producers, Zhang Jizhong, has reached a deal with award-winning author Neil Gaiman to pen the screenplay for a massive adaptation of the ancient Chinese tale, Journey to the West.
The adaptation, at the moment anyway, is planned to be an epic $300 million trilogy — $100 million per movie. No easy task to pull off, and one that would require some major help if we’re ever to see it made.
Enter a couple of names we’ve heard very recently: Avatar director James Cameron and Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro. Cameron will act as an adviser on the project, helping to bring the story together and offering his knowledge on many useful technologies like 3D. As for del Toro — he’s a good friend of Gaiman’s and is being looked at as a director for one or more of the movies, but is simply a maybe at the moment. Of del Toro, Zhang said “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.”
The big news here is Gaiman’s involvement, of course, which is locked in and official. Just recently we watched as the del Toro/Cameron attempt to deliver At the Mountain’s of Madness crumbled to the ground, and this sounds to be an equally gigantic project. Cameron was a producer on that movie and is only an adviser here, and with how many projects he has stockpiled it seems unlikely that del Toro will be stepping in. Don’t be surprised to hear about many announcements and changes for Journey to the West, but the chances of this movie happening one way or another sounds pretty good at the moment.
My wish would be that half of the funding comes from China, and half of the funding comes from Hollywood, but I know most of the money will come from China since now it is so easy to get funding here. One million dollars is worth twice that if you shoot here.
Huayi Brothers are willing to take part, and China Film Group, but this is all in the future, for now we need to go through certain procedures to get there.
Zhang also says he’s being patient with the project at the suggestion of James Cameron. Being a TV producer he’s excited to get right into things, but knows he needs to wait and see how the script comes together.