Netflix is moving forward on their ambitious new sci-fi adaptation series of Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem trilogy that’s being led by True Blood‘s Alexander Woo and Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Filming is still ongoing as of August 31st, 2022 under the codename “Straight Shooter,” so let’s dive into everything we know so far.
Netflix struck a deal with The Three-Body Universe and Yoozoo Group for the rights to produce an English-language adaptation of the books in September 2020.
The sci-fi drama will be produced by Game of Thrones duo’s Bighead Littlehead production company and will be one of the many projects in their overall deal with Netflix.
In an official press release, Benioff and Weiss offered their comment on adapting the Chinese book series into television:
“Liu Cixin’s trilogy is the most ambitious science-fiction series we’ve read, taking readers on a journey from the 1960s until the end of time, from life on our pale blue dot to the distant fringes of the universe. We look forward to spending the next years of our lives bringing this to life for audiences around the world.”
Alexander Woo added:
“It’s a privilege to be adapting one of the great masterpieces of Chinese science-fiction. The Three-Body Problem trilogy combines so many things I love: rich, multi-layered characters and true existential stakes – all told as an elegant and deeply human allegory. I’m thrilled to kick off my partnership with Netflix with this accomplished creative team.”
Attached to the sci-fi project as executive producers are also Star Wars and Knives Out director Rian Johnson as well as actors Brad Pitt and Rosamund Pike. It is currently unknown whether Rian Johnson will also serve as a director. Johnson is no stranger to television as he helmed the iconic Breaking Bad episode “Ozymandias” several years ago.
What is the plot of The Three-Body Problem?
Written by Chinese author Liu Cixin, the three books in his trilogy tell the story of the first human contact with alien life from the planet called Trisolaris and the conflict between the two species that starts to brew over many years.
The Netflix series is expected to start from the first book of the trilogy, Remembrance of Earth’s Past, which sets the story in China during the cultural revolution era, with scientists committing suicide due to involvement with the mysterious society Frontiers of Science.
Without getting into major spoilers, one of the main leads, Ye Wenjie, is a scientist who gets disillusioned by the government and humanity in general and willingly causes the Trisolarians to discover Earth’s location and prepare for invasion. It would take them a couple of centuries to get to Earth so humans still have time.
Years later, Ye is the leader of a secret organization of alien invasion supporters. The group has broken into two factions: those who want Trisolarians to invade and forcibly improve humanity and those who want the Trisolarians to exterminate humanity. The aliens on their part have been conducting various forms of espionage over the years causing mysterious cases of deaths, suicides, and disappearances of key scientific figures. As the year’s pass, the conflict becomes closer and tenser.
The Three-Body Problem, the story of humanity’s first contact with an alien civilization inspired by @cixinliu’s renowned novel, will be adapted as a Netflix series from David Benioff, D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo. pic.twitter.com/Dily05j2Vw
— Netflix Geeked (@NetflixGeeked) September 1, 2020
The book author himself, Liu Cixin, is very excited and proud of this partnership with Netflix:
I have the greatest respect for and faith in the creative team adapting ‘The Three-Body Problem’ for television audiences. I set out to tell a story that transcends time and the confines of nations, cultures and races; one that compels us to consider the fate of humankind as a whole. It is a great honor as an author to see this unique sci-fi concept travel and gain fandom across the globe and I am excited for new and existing fans all over the world to discover the story on Netflix.
The Three-Body Problem is an ambitious large-scale story with many interesting characters, locations and plotlines. With luck, this will be a very big hit for Netflix.
Who is cast in The Three-Body Problem?
On October 29, 2021, Netflix announced 12 primary cast members for the series. They are:
- Jovan Adepo (Watchmen)
- John Bradley (Game of Thrones)
- Tsai Chin (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings)
- Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
- Elza González (Baby Driver)
- Jess Hong (Inked)
- Marlo Kelly (Dare Me)
- Alex Sharp (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)
- Sea Shimooka (Arrow)
- Zine Tseng
- Saamer Usmani (Succession)
- Benedict Wong (Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness)
We’ve also learned that Russell Yuen will guest star throughout season 1. He’s expected to play Emperor Zhou.
Stacy Abalogun is also expected to play the role of Thelma in the series.
Tony Leung also has been on the record in implying he’s part of the project.
In June 2022, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that four more cast members had joined the cast with those being:
- Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes, Game of Thrones)
- Rosalind Chao (Better Things)
- Ben Schnetzer (Y: The Last Man)
- Eve Ridley (Peppa Pig)
How many episodes the first season will The Three-Body Problem have?
No official number has been given with regards to an episode count for The Three-Body Problem.
With that said, Pandaily has reported that 24-episodes in total are being produced for the series in total. We do know that each episode is about 60 minutes in length.
What’s the production status of The Three-Body Problem?
Netflix’s The Three-Body Problem is currently set to enter production in November 2021 in the United Kingdom and China. Filming is planned to continue through to August 2022 according to issue 1265 of Production Weekly.
Pandaily reports that the production of the series was originally due to take place for a total of 12 months from September 2019. That failed to materialize, however, and the filming got underway in November 2021. It is currently due to wrap filming in September 2022.
Promoting the Universal movie, Ambulance, Eliza Gonzalez talked about the upcoming Netflix series with Joe.co.uk.
Eiza Gonzalez talks about her upcoming Netflix series ‘The Three Body Problem’ (currently filming) & working with the Game Of Thrones producers & cast. pic.twitter.com/ZB0NFuKeRh
— Eiza Gonzalez News (@EizaGonzalez_HQ) March 24, 2022
In November 2021, the series was looking for a large number of extras according to BackStage. Their ad states:
“Key Casting’s Rosie Carter is seeking men and women aged 17+ for the new Netflix series Straight Shooter. The project is filming into 2022 in London and Surrey, and requires actors from Chinese backgrounds.”
In early 2022, the production filmed in locations such as Surrey/Somerset in the United Kingdom according to local reporting.
Filming notice 🎬 – Tuesday 8th – Friday 11th March 2022 (inclusive)
The Cathedral will be in use for filming and there will be no public access. Services have been moved to the @Bishops_Palace, Vicars’ Close Chapel, and St Cuthbert’s Church https://t.co/dfnlBngj2i pic.twitter.com/slbeJDsGx3
— Wells Cathedral (@WellsCathedral1) March 7, 2022
Some other eagled-eyed eyewitnesses also caught the show filming in London in late April 2022.
In late May 2022, a drone company by the name of AirDroneView posted that they had completed work on a series with the working title of Straight Shooter, saying:
“We have traveled to the area of Las Villuercas, to climb to the top, Pico Villuercas, at 1603 meters of altitude, to participate in the new Netflix series «Straight Shooter», carrying out a series of works with drones in the environment.”
In late August 2022, the production moved to Florida filming at St. Augustine. They hired out 800 nights at a hotel according to one report and was filming at the Magic Beach Motel at Vilano Beach.
Who’s directing Netflix’s The Three-Body Problem?
The first director attached to the project Derek Tsang best known for his work on Better Days and his solo directorial debut on 2016’s Soul Mate. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he’s the director of the pilot episode.
Minkie Spiro is also reportedly on board to direct at least three episodes of the series. Spiro is best known for working on Netflix’s Pieces of Her where she directed all 8 episodes and served as an executive producer. Elsewhere, she’s directed episodes on Fosse/Verdon, Netflix’s Dead to Me and HBO’s Barry.
Is Three-Body Problem getting a spinoff? What is Netflix’s The Dark Forest?
In issue 1235 of Production Weekly we noticed a curious entry for a project named The Dark Forest with the exact same production team as The Three-Body Problem. Benioff, Weiss, Woo, Johnson, Pitt, Pike, everyone. The Dark Forest is the name of the second novel in the The Three-Body Problem trilogy from Liu Cixin. The project even has a logline that pretty much presents itself as a logline of the second book:
“In The Dark Forest, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion-in just four centuries’ time. The aliens’ human collaborators may have been defeated, but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth’s defense plans are totally exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret. This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four men enormous resources to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists, but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he’s the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead.”
As Liu Cixin’s story takes place over a vast amount of decades and even centuries, we are thinking that The Dark Forest is the second series in this universe and down the line, it may not even be the last.
The Three-Body Problem Netflix Controversy
In September 2020, The Three-Body Problem became the subject of controversy as five US senators sent a letter to the Netflix president Ted Sarandos accusing the streaming service of normalizing the Chinese government’s brutal incarceration of more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims.
The reason for this was in response to comments made by author Liu Cixin condoning the Chinese government’s actions.
Netflix responded shortly after, firmly standing its ground on moving ahead with the project while detaching itself from Cixin’s controversial comments:
“Mr. Liu is the author of the books, not the creator of this series. Mr. Liu’s comments are not reflective of the views of Netflix or of the show’s creators, nor are they part of the plot or themes of the show. We do not agree with his comments, which are entirely unrelated to his book or this Netflix show. Mr. Liu is a Chinese citizen living in China – he is the author of the books, not the creator of this Netflix series. The creators are David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of Game of Thrones, and Alexander Woo, executive producer/writer on the series True Blood.”
When will Three-Body Problem be released on Netflix?
We have no official information on the release date of Three-Body Problem, but since the first season is set to wrap in late 2022, it won’t be until at least 2023 when it drops on Netflix.
Are you looking forward to The Three-Body Problem on Netflix? Let us know in the comments down below.
For more sci-fi projects coming soon to Netflix, check out our guide.