Neil Gaiman hired to adapt Journey To The West – the traditional Chinese folk tale that inspired Monkey – by Chinese TV producer
Okay, let’s clarify matters. He’s been hired by Chinese TV producer Zhang Jizhong to write a script for a film based on the ancient Chinese folk tale Journey To The West , which was the inspiration for the cult Japanese TV series Saiyūki that was dubbed into English, renamed Monkey and shown on BBC2 back in the late ’70s early ’80. You remember? The guy with the sideburns flying around on a cloud, Pigsy, Sandy, the young priest we all thought was woman but may have been a man, the incredible martial arts action, the oh-so-catchy theme tune (“Monkey Magic!”)?
The film adaptation has been given a huge budget of $300 million dollars. James Cameron is involved; he will work a little with Gaiman on the script as an advisor, and also advise on technical issues with the 3D technology they will use to make the movie. And Zhang is looking to bring in Guillermo del Toro to direct the film, though he warns: “[He] has shown a lot of interest but he wants to see the treatment first. Obviously the more celebrated the director, the busier they are.”
Journey To The West will be shot in English, using a cast of both Western and Chinese actors. Gaiman is mindful of how precious this legend is to the people of China, but he's jazzed at the project's potential:
“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.”