Neil Gaiman is writing a film treatment for a trilogy adaptation of Journey to the West, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He’ll be working with Zhang Jizhong, a prominent TV producer in China who is awesomely nicknamed “Beardy”. James Cameron may consult. A director hasn’t been hired yet, although Guillermo del Toro has been rumored to be involved (as he is rumored to be involved in every movie ever). The film will be shot in China with an international cast speaking English. Last year Zhang stated he expected the trilogy to cost as much as $300 million, but would be stretching the money further by filming in China.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Gaiman remarked, “We have to do what Peter Jackson did with Lord of The Rings. We have to make it filmic, non-episodic. This story is in the DNA of 1.5 billion people.” Indeed, that Journey Into the West is so well known and so beloved in China might be Gaiman’s biggest challenge in adapting the 2,000-page novel. Additional pressure may come from the Chinese government itself, which has been known to censor creative works. Speaking to that, Gaiman said, “Monkey is irrepressible. The moment that you try to censor Monkey, he’s not Monkey anymore.” [ComicsAlliance]
DO NOT CENSOR MONKEY. Monkey plays by Monkey’s own rules. Truly these are words to live by. I remember the time I tried to censor Monkey. He ceased being Monkey and I could have sworn he became Kirstie Alley for like two seconds. Is that what you want, China?