Neil Gaiman Hired To Pen ‘Journey to the West’ Movie

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 14th, 2013 at 9:29 am,

Creator of The Sandman comic book series and original author of popular novels-turned-movies such as Stardust and Coraline, Neil Gaiman easily ranks as one of the more accomplished fantasy writers currently in the biz. He’ll next shift his focus from Western to Eastern folklore for an adaptation of the revered ancient Chinese parable, Journey to the West.

Chinese TV producer Zhang Jizhong is working behind the scenes on this $300 million project, and James Cameron will lend his expertise on technical matters – including, of course, shooting the potential trilogy of films in 3D.

Journey to the West is a 500-year-old tale by Wu Cheng’en that is based off the real-life pilgrimage of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang. The story follows Xuanzang as he eventually joins ranks with the magical Monkey King, a gluttonous pig spirit, a river-ogre, and the third prince of the Dragon King, on a quest to retrieve Buddha’s scrolls from India – as a means (both literally and symbolically) of attaining enlightenment.

It’s a fantastical yarn that is deeply rooted in Chinese folk religion, philosophy, mythology, and value systems in general, but Jizhong is reportedly conceiving the project as “the first true crossover Sino-Western epic,” according to Variety.

Gaiman traveled recently to the Yunnan province for inspiration, and had the following to offer – with regards to possible complaints about his adapting a story so unique to Asian culture:

“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.”

Journey to the West movie being written by Neil Gaiman Neil Gaiman Hired To Pen Journey to the West Movie

Jizhong is currently on the lookout for a filmmaker to helm Journey to the West, which will be funded primarily by Chinese backers and shot using a mixture of Asian and Western (read: Hollywood) stars. Guillermo del Toro, a good friend of Gaiman’s, is high on the directors wish list – although the recent collapse of his At the Mountains of Madness adaptation might’ve put a damper on del Toro’s inclination to become involved with another high-concept, massively-budgeted film project right now.

The source material is an excellent fit for Gaiman’s sensibilities as a writer, and Journey to the West will definitely feature a big name director, when all is said and done. It may be a while before any solid progress is made on this adaptation, seeing how Jizhong is primarily experienced in the television, not the film, medium. There’s also the matter of garnering enough financial support from Hollywood studios to cover half of the estimated $300 million production budget.

We’ll keep you posted on the development of Journey to the West.

Source: Variety

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  1. Don’t get del Toro, the project will be doomed considering his recent track record.

    • Quite agree with you. I have lose faith in del toro. He tried to balance too many projects in one go and then he can find manage to start shooting even one film

  2. Is this what the television show MONKEY was based off? I’m surprised it’s not mentioned in this piece. That show was very popular. A huge part of my childhood anyway.

  3. Isn’t Dragon Ball (original, Z, and GT) based off Journey to the West?

    It sounds good to me, I’d like Del Toro to get involve with this, it would be right up his alley. Just because some of his recent projects have fallen apart doesnt mean its his fault, ATMOM looks to be the production companys fault not his.

    • im not 100% sure but i do know goku is based off of the monkey king. the staff and the tale are big hints.

  4. This looks like a job for Tarsem Singh!!! The problem is Hollywood coming up with 150M without messing with the project. These numbers make people nervous…

  5. Shouldn’t be called Journey to the South since India is south of China? I’m just saying.

  6. Has anyone played Enslaved: Odyssey to the West? It’s based off the journey to the west. I heard that there were talks of making it into a movie but I doubt it’s this. I loved that game and would love to see it on film.

  7. James Cameron would be better off making a dbz movie….

  8. Neil Gaiman’s writing it, so it will be mediocre, just like Mirrormask, American Gods, Neverwhere (both TV and book), and his episode of Doctor Who. What’s next?

    • How is Neil Gaiman a mediocre writer?? Fair enough if you dont personally like his style but that doesnt mean hes mediocre. Hes got a few best sellers under his belt and is widely recognised for his Sandman graphic novels. I could go on to say more but it would be my personal opinion of his works so i wont bother, but you should be a bit more objective in your statements. Hes clearly good at what he does even if you dont like it.

  9. OK. I’ve been thoroughly familiar with Journey to the West since wee-babehood, and to me the whole team-of-demon-fighting-misfits-on-an-epic-journey-to-discover-their-destinies thing just SCREAMS JOSS WHEDON. Anyone else???

    The thing about JTTW is that it’s filled with humor and extremely character-driven, and the whole thing is really a metaphor for (and a satire of) people and life in the Ming Dynasty ca AD 1500. I know nil about Neil but I’d hate to see this living classic get turned into tripe by del Toro or Cameron. (Not the yummy, delicious tripe, but the kind filled with lots of explosions instead of a plot.) Del Toro and Cameron are too childish to make fairytales.

    And we already know Joss can bring something like this to the big screen with a Vengeance.

    • Del Toro is too childish to make fairytales? What was Pan’s Labyrinth?

      • Drivel.

  10. Sigh… so I guess they’ll get a white guy to play the leading role and let Westerners redefine how Chinese see their history.

    I really hope this fails.