“Avatar,” James Cameron’s uber-expensive 3D blockbuster, made a lot of money in China. But it could be nothing compared to what the first Chinese mega-3D film could make here.
“Journey to the West,” a Ming Dynasty novel, is hugely famous in China. It tells the story of a Buddhist monk traveling West with the help of some mythical protectors, including the famous Monkey King Sun Wukong. The tale has been retold dozens of times in film and TV adaptations, and it’s even starting to catch on abroad. British TV has long serialized a dubbed version of one of the Chinese TV adaptations, and more recently a respected developer has even released a video game based (loosely) on the story (“Enslaved: Odyssey to the West”).
But the Monkey King’s greatest victory may still lie in the future. Chinese filmmakers are planning a 400 million RMB 3D IMAX film version of the tale, and they’ve roped some of China’s brightest action stars into participating. The film is called The Monkey King (大闹天官 Dànào Tiāngōng in Chinese), and Donnie Yen is reportedly playing the titular furry hero. It’s only just started shooting, and is expected to hit theaters sometime in 2011, so you’ve got plenty of time to buy some comfortable 3D glasses before it’s time to hit the theater.
Amazingly, that’s not the only adaptation of “Journey to the West” currently in the works. Stephen Chow (of “Shaolin Soccer” and “Kung Fu Hustle” fame) is also working on a version of the story (maybe in 3D, maybe not) set for a Christmas 2011 release, and TV producer Zhang Jizhong is apparently also planning a 3-part 3D epic film based on the ancient novel that will be shot in English rather than in Chinese.
All in all, 2011 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for the Monkey King, and an even better year for 3D film lovers.