Neil Gaiman Writing ‘Monkey King’ Movies in China

Award-winning 'Sandman' writer tries his hand at a classic of Chinese literature.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

Neil Gaiman Writing 'Monkey King' Movies in China

Neil Gaiman: if the name means anything to you then it probably sends little nervous titters to your nervous system, since he’s the acclaimed writer of such modern fantasy classics as Sandman and Coraline. He’s about to add another classic to his resume, even if it’s not his own. Gaiman has signed on to write English-language screenplays for a trilogy of films based on the 16th Century Chinese epic Journey to the West for producer Zhang Jizhong. The series is expected to have a $300 million budget and will be filmed in – damn it – 3D. Hollywood Reporter had the (news) story.

Gaiman is no stranger to Journey to the West, the tale of a Buddhist monk charged with retrieving a series of sacred texts from China’s western lands. Adventure and enlightenment ensue. The tale has been adapted before in such films as A Chinese Odyssey, starring Kung Fu Hustle‘s Stephen Chow, and the English-language videogame Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, which gave the story a sci-fi bent involving robots and exploding slave collars. We’re imagining that the classier-than-classy Neil Gaiman will have a more straightforward take on the novel, having reportedly grown up reading Journey to the West and enjoying a Japanese adaptation on the BBC.

This isn’t Neil Gaiman’s first foray into adaptations of Asian fantasy: he also penned the English translation of Hayao Miyazaki’s classic film Princess Mononoke. Zhang Jizhong has not yet found a director for the project, and in fact full financing has not yet been completed. Normally that would make us crazy skeptical, but it’s still in the scripting stage and that sort of thing’s still normal. With Neil Gaiman on board, we can’t imagine that he’ll have too much trouble attracting talent. Money, on the other hand, seems scarce in Hollywood these days, what with James Cameron-produced sci-fi epics starring Tom Cruise having trouble getting made…

Crave Online will return with more Journey to the West news as it journeys… to the west… for sacred texts and… things.