Streaming giant and ‘Game of Thrones’ creators David Benioff and DB Weiss collaborated with Yoozoo Group on the high-profile plan to adapt the best-selling Chinese sci-fi books. But Yoozo’s chairman Lin Qi is now hospitalized after an alleged poisoning, and another director of the company is in police custody as the main suspect.
Netflix high profile plan to have Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and DB Weiss adapt the best-selling Chinese sci-fi books The three-body problem has been hit by a scandalous assassination attempt in Shanghai.
Netflix acquired the rights to produce the large-budget English-language adaptation of the hit books from Chinese companies Yoozoo Group and The Three-Body Universe, which had previously acquired the rights to the properties.
Yoozoo Group chairman Lin Qi, credited as the producer of the Netflix series along with Benioff, Weiss and others, was hospitalized after being poisoned on December 16, according to a statement released Wednesday by Shanghai police. Local authorities have arrested a suspect, the surname Xu, who they believe is responsible for the poisoning.
The suspect Xu, 39, has been identified by Chinese media as Xu Yao, a senior employee of Yoozoo’s film and television department (only his last name and age were released by police). Local reports have claimed that a prior dispute among the Chinese entertainment company’s management ranks preceded the covert attack on Lin.
Liu’s The three-body problem trilogy is a global publishing phenomenon. The first book in the series won sci-fi’s highest honor, the Hugo Award, in 2015 – a first for an Asian author. The series has since become an international bestseller, translated into dozens of languages and praised by critics for its enormous scope and originality.
Netflix planned the property as a major event series with Benioff and Weiss at the helm and Alexander Woo (Terror: Infamy) installed as a showrunner. The project also counts heavyweights like Rian Johnson and Rosamund Pike and Brad Pitt’s Plan B among its executive producers.
On Wednesday night in China, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau released the following statement on its official Weibo social media account:
“At 5pm on December 17, 2020, the police received a call from a hospital about a patient with the surname Lin. During the patient’s treatment, the hospital said it had determined that the patient had been poisoned. After the call, the police began an investigation. “At the scene and further interviews, police found that a suspected surname Xu, who is a colleague of victim Lin, was the most likely perpetrator. The suspected Xu has been arrested and the investigation continues.”
The three-body problemthe path from side to screen has been, to put it mildly, encumbered. Back in December 2015, Yoozoo announced that they had acquired the rights and would collaborate with acclaimed author Liu to produce both a Chinese-language film adaptation and a version of video games. The film was scheduled for release in July 2016, but was quickly run into reports of problems on stage, including senior staff changes and eventually the firing of the entire post-production and VHX team. The release date was moved to 2017 – and later scrapped again, where Yoozoo does not lack shadow online from China’s large sci-fi fan community. When the Netflix adaptation plan was unveiled in September, what many in the Chinese industry long suspected came up: that Yoozoo had given up on adapting the hot property itself and decided to be a rights broker (the company also sold Three-body problem rights to Shanghai-based streaming platform Bilibili and local animation company YHTK Entertainment for a Chinese-animated series).
Despite the huge industrial turnaround that followed Game of Thrones, Benioff and Weiss have also taken a somewhat rocky path too late. The duos GoT follow-up should be Confederates, an HBO series with a big budget that takes place in a parallel universe where the South won the American Civil War and slavery continues. But the show faced immediate setbacks from black activists and thought leaders and was eventually abandoned.
Benioff and Weiss then signed a deal with Disney’s Lucasfilm to develop a trio of originals Star wars movies, but they later stepped away from those plans, citing a busy schedule due to an overall nine-digit deal they wrote on Netflix. The three-body problem should be their very first major project under the recent partnership.
Their Netflix Three-body problem the series plan was hit by political controversy not long after it was announced in September. Netflix’s decision to embark on the project was challenged by a group of Republican senators who claimed the company would “normalize” China’s human rights violations by working with Liu, the famous author of the original books.
In a letter sent to Netflix Chief Content Officer and co-CEO Ted Sarandos, lawmakers quoted from a lengthy interview that Liu gave to New Yorker in 2019, where he answered a question about China’s mass detention of Uyghur Muslims in the country’s Xinjiang province by saying: “Would you rather they hack away at corpses at train stations and schools in terrorist attacks? If anything, the government is helping their economy and trying to lift them out of poverty. “The senators’ letter asked a series of questions asking Netflix to justify its decision to move forward with the project in partnership with Liu, saying he is” a parrot[s] dangerous CCP propaganda “in the face of atrocities.
Netflix responded to the senators a day later, noting that while the author may support the Chinese government’s inhuman policies, Benioff, Weiss, and Netflix do not share these views. The streamer added that it “rates individual projects on their merits” and described Liu’s comments as “completely independent of his book or this Netflix show.”