Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline and the Sandman, has grand plans. He has just signed a deal with producer Zhang Jizhong which could result in Journey to the West, the classic novel from China about the Monkey King, brought to the theatres in a series of big budget 3D movies. Gaiman told The Hollywood Reporter:
We have to do what Peter Jackson did with Lord of The Rings. We have to make it filmic, non-episodic. This story is in the DNA of 1.5 billion people.
In order to achieve his goal, Gaiman who, it seems, is replacing an earlier screenwriter, has been talking to James Cameron for some 3D tips and there is a suggestion that Guillermo del Toro may be among the directors considered.
Zhang Jizhong, a leading television producer in China, and Gaiman have to communicate through interpreters and they admit that they have argued about which storylines should be kept for the film series. The stakes are high. If the script and the cast have a wide enough appeal, the films have the potential to draw in a massive Chinese and international box office. In search of common ground, Zhang and Gaiman have toured China together. Chinese state censors also have an interest in how the project develops. But Gaiman is nothing if not determined:
Monkey is irrepressible. The moment that you try to censor Monkey, he’s not Monkey anymore.
This could of course provide Guillermo Del Toro with another perfect opportunity to be attached to a movie for a long period of time without actually getting behind a camera. If it does come to pass one can only hope it’s half as good as the classic TV series adaptation, Monkey, that I would race home from school to watch each week. You’d have to go a long way to beat Pigsy and the swishing fingers of Tripitaka.