Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Peacock to Stream Adaptation of ‘Three-Body Problem’ Ahead of Rival Netflix Version

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Now Netflix has a two Body problem.

An adaptation of Liu Cixin’s epic sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem is going to land on a major U.S. streaming service just weeks ahead of Netflix launching its own version.

Peacock announced Friday it has acquired Tencent’s Three-Body, the Chinese adaptation that was released internationally last year. The streamer will launch all 30 episodes Feb. 10.

While Tencent pegged the release date choice to the Lunar New Year, the launch is also clearly timed to get ahead of Netflix’s big-budget version, titled 3 Body Problem, coming March 21.

As the NBCUniversal press release rather archly notes, “With all the buzz surrounding Netflix’s English adaptation, we’re excited about the opportunity for sci-fi and Chinese drama fans to watch the Chinese-language original (with English subtitles) ahead of the Hollywood adaptation.”

The positioning allows Peacock to take advantage of the publicity generated by the Netflix version, which is from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss and True Blood writer-producer Alexander Woo.

The two adaptations are very different, however. The Tencent version is considered an ultra-faithful adaptation (to the point that some have criticized it as being a bit tedious) that, like the novels, remains squarely focused on characters from China who grapple with an alien invasion. Netflix’s version expands the story to an international cast and takes liberties to adapt the dense and physics-heavy novel for a mainstream audience. Also, while the Tencent version avoids the book’s brutal portrayal of the Chinese Cultural Revolution — a key sequence in the story — the Netflix version was able to be more faithful in that regard.

The launch of Three-Body on the Tencent streaming service last year provoked plenty of debate online among the Hugo Award-winning novel’s fans about the perceived merits of the show versus Netflix’s upcoming version, with many concluding they’d probably end up checking out both.

In The Hollywood Reporter‘s recent cover story on 3 Body Problem, Benioff discussed the differences between the two projects. “During the first couple of seasons of Thrones, a lot of people were like, ‘Why didn’t they put in this scene?’ They wanted a literal adaptation of every single page,” Benioff says. “I always wondered, ‘Would people like that if they actually got it?’ Now we have that with this, where there’s one extremely faithful adaptation and then ours, which is less so, and others can judge how they stack up.”

Here is the trailer for Tencent version Three-Body (which is also available on Prime Video in addition to Peacock):

And here is the trailer for the Netflix version 3 Body Problem:

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