Derek Tsang to direct Netflix adaptation of The Three-Body Problem

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Hong Kong director Derek Tsang (pictured) will reportedly direct and co-executive produce Netflix’s adaptation of Liu Cixin’s sci-fi novel The Three Body Problem, which is being co-created by Alexander Woo and Games Of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

The project was announced last year with a long list of producers, including Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman (Looper, Knives Out); Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, and Primitive Streak, founded by Robie Uniacke and Rosamund Pike. Liu Cixin and the trilogy’s English translator Ken Liu are on board as consulting producers. 

Tsang made the final list of five nominees for best international feature at this year’s Academy Awards with youth drama Better Days, starring Zhou Dongyu and Jackson Yee. His credits also include Soulmate (2016), for which he was nominated for best director at both the Hong Kong Film Awards and Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards. 

Liu’s sci-fi trilogy, Remembrance Of Earth’s Past (of which The Three Body Problem is the first novel), tells the story of how humans react when an alien civilisation makes contact with Earth and decides it would make a more suitable home than their own unstable planet. 

Chinese netizens gave a mixed reaction to the news about Tsang’s involvement as he has no experience with the sci-fi genre and is mostly known for films about teenage angst. However, there are few Chinese directors who do have experience with sci-fi, despite China’s current obsession with the genre. 

The Netflix adaptation has already run into controversy due to comments Liu made in an interview with The New Yorker magazine in 2019 in which he appeared to defend the Chinese government’s treatment of Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang. After the adaptation was announced, one of the Chinese producers on the project – Yoozoo chairman and CEO Lin Qi – died in an alleged poisoning by a colleague.