The Three-Body Problem is one of the many Netflix projects the streaming service hopes will be a big hit with viewers, especially since Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are attached to the project. But while we know little about what that show will look like, we’ve seen increasingly strange bits of news leaking out associated to the source material.
Earlier in 2020, for example, the Three-Body Problem‘s author drew controversy when he was critical of Uyghur Muslims in an interview with The New Yorker, which led to several conservative critics and politicians to call for Netflix to stop working on the show. But Liu Cixen’s comments were not nearly as odd as the latest news about the Netflix series, which is currently embroiled in a real-life plot that sounds like it comes right from the last show Weiss and Benioff worked on.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote earlier in the week that the Chinese producer for the series was hospitalized after a poisoning that was later traced to another person in the company. As THR explained, Netflix acquired the rights to the Chinese sci-fi bestsellers and hoped to adapt them in English, acquiring the rights to them from a Chinese company Yoozoo Group and The Three-Body Universe. But the chairman of the former company was attacked earlier in the month.
Yoozoo Group’s chairman, Lin Qi, who is credited as a producer on the Netflix series alongside Benioff, Weiss and others, was hospitalized after having been poisoned on Dec. 16, according to a statement released Wednesday by the Shanghai police. Local authorities have apprehended a suspect, surnamed Xu, whom they believe to be responsible for the poisoning.
The suspect Xu, 39, has been identified by Chinese media outlets as Xu Yao, a senior executive in Yoozoo’s film and television division (only his surname and age were released by police). Local reports have alleged that a prior dispute among the Chinese entertainment company’s executive ranks preceded the surreptitious assault on Lin.
It’s certainly a noteworthy scandal in China, and attached to a major Netflix production — and showrunners very familiar with poison plots — it’s a very strange coincidence indeed. As the Hollywood Reporter story notes, there are some high expectations for the series on the streaming front, as the books are a huge international smash and have some major names attached to the show’s creation.
Netflix was planning the property as a major event series, with Benioff and Weiss at the helm, and Alexander Woo (The Terror: Infamy) installed as showrunner. The project also counts heavyweights such as Rian Johnson, and Rosamund Pike and Brad Pitt’s Plan B among its executive producers.
Unfortunately, Variety reported Saturday that Qi had died. The cause of the poisoning and the reasons around the plot are still coming into focus, but it’s certainly a tragic situation to say the least.