Neil Gaiman & James Cameron Join Forces for 'Journey to the West'
Though the project is still in the early stages of development, over in Beijing plans were just announced for an epic $300 million trilogy adaptation of the ancient Chinese folk tale Journey to the West, a story that is considered one of the Four Great Classical Novels in Chinese literature. Variety reports producer Zhang Jizhong has snagged Coraline and Stardust author Neil Gaiman to script the adaptation. In addition to that, James Cameron will advise on the script as well as several sects of technology, including shooting in 3D. If that's not enough, they have their eyes on Guillermo del Toro to direct at least one of the films.
Though he's lined up Pacific Rim as his next film (since At the Mountains of Madness sadly fell apart), del Toro's participation wouldn't be hard to obtain. Not only is Gaiman close friends with the visionary filmmaker, but del Toro was working closely with Cameron in their attempt to get the new dead H.P. Lovecraft adaptation off the ground. The story sounds like it could be right up the director's alley as it follows the events that befall the Monkey King, armed with a magic staff, as he journeys with a monk, a pig spirit and a fish spirit to India to retrieve Buddha's scrolls in an effort to find enlightenment. Of course, del Toro has said that he wants to see a treatment before making any kind of commitment.
The production will happen in China since it's so much cheaper to shoot in the country, but the film will be in the English language and use both Chinese and Western talent on camera. Zhang has already produced a TV adaptation of Journey to the West, and countless other adaptations have been made as well. Though the story hasn't exactly penetrated American pop culture, Gaiman isn't worried about the story crossing over. The author says, "There is nothing inherently Greek about The Odyssey. These are big stories that work with people. There are 2,000 pages filled with adventures. The delight and the challenge is to write a story that for 1.4 billion people is in their DNA." After all, the language of adventure is universal, right?
Not only is this adaptation on the scale of a Hollywood undertaking, the plan is for three films initially, which means there may be plans for even more films from the sprawling story to be adapted down the road. I'm not familiar with the Chinese story, but if you take Gaiman, Cameron and del Toro and bring them together for a project like this, then people (myself among them) will clamor to theaters to see it. Interested?