Google “Monkey King” and you’ll get some where in the 44 million hits range. An age old Chinese folk legend, the Monkey King has been in just about every kind of social medium, story telling, plays, books, comics, television, movies, anime, you name it and someone has done it.
So when Chinese TV producer Zhang Jizhong decided to take a crack at the Monkey King it wasn’t earth shattering news. Then Jizhong hired Neil Gaiman to write Journey to the West, a film trilogy of the tale of the Monkey King’s travels from China to India in search of Buddha’s scrolls. That’s news. Throw in James Cameron as a story and technical production advisor, sprinkle in Del Toro as the prospective director and you have an almost unholy alliance of talent.
Journey to the West will be shot in English, using a cast of both Western and Chinese actors. Gaiman is mindful of how ingrained the legend of the Monkey King is to the people of China, but he’s excited about the project’s potential. Gaiman relates the Monkey King to another story told many times and in many ways, The Odyssey.
“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.”