Who do you get to make a movie out of a national tale of fantasy and intrigue? If you're a Chinese filmmaker, the choice is celebrated writer Neil Gaiman, and the decision is a pretty smart and inspired one.
Variety reports that Chinese TV producer Zhang Jizhong has tapped Gaiman to adapt the folk tale "Journey to the West" and once you hear what it's about, you'll see why. The 500-year-old story is by "Wu Cheng'en, detailing the events that befall the Monkey King, armed with a magic staff, as he journeys with a monk, a pig spirit and a fish spirit to India to retrieve Buddha's scrolls in an effort to find enlightenment." Gaiman is pretty much a perfect match for the material and savvy selection to spin the tale into a movie. But he's not the only heavyweight name sniffing around project.
James Cameron will pitch in consulting on the script and on the technical aspects of the film (ie. 3D), but that's not all. The filmmakers are aiming pretty damn high in terms of finding a director. Guillermo del Toro, who is a good friend of Gaiman's, is apparently being courted with Zhang keeping things in perspective saying, "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." And as everyone knows by now, his next film will be "Pacific Rim" which starts shooting September.
But 'Journey' is gonna be a monster of a project. It will span into a trilogy of films, each with a budget of $100 million with funding mostly expected to come from China. The film will be shot in English with a mix of Western and Eastern actors, though no one has come aboard just yet.
With so much heavyweight talent behind this, we presume the pieces will start coming together fast. But lest we forget, just putting James Cameron's name on something he isn't directing doesn't mean much to audiences or the overall quality of the film. Case in point: "Sanctum."