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Neil Gaiman and James Cameron working together on a Chinese Folk Tale JOURNEY TO THE WEST

Neil Gaiman has been hired by Chinese TV producer Zhang Jizhong to write a script for a film based on an ancient Chinese folk tale called Journey to the West. The film adaptation has been given a huge budget of $300 million dollars. Oh yeah, and of course James Cameron is involved with the project. He will work a little with Gaiman on the script as an advisor, and also advise on technical issues with the 3D technology they will use to make the movie. If that isn't enough to get you excited Zhang is looking to bring in Guillermo del Toro to direct the film. Gaiman, Cameron and Del Toro are all friends so there is a chance that this could happen.

According to Zhang Del Toro "has shown a lot of interest but he wants to see the treatment first. Obviously the more celebrated the director, the busier they are." The plan is to make a trilogy of films on an epic Hollywood scale, each film given a $100 million dollar budget.

The story that the movie will be based on is a rollicking 500-year-old tale by Wu Cheng'en, detailing the events that befall the Monkey King, armed with a magic staff, as he journeys with a monk, a pig spirit and a fish spirit to India to retrieve Buddha's scrolls in an effort to find enlightenment.

Zhang says,

My wish would be that half of the funding comes from China, and half of the funding comes from Hollywood, but I know most of the money will come from China since now it is so easy to get funding here. Huayi Brothers are willing to take part, and China Film Group, but this is all in the future, for now we need to go through certain procedures to get there.

I'm looking forward to the treatment, but as James Cameron told me, I need to be patient. I work in TV usually, so I'm used to things happening quickly. I need to focus on the script and make sure it's a good story.

The plan is to shoot the movie in English using a mixture of Western and Chinese actors. The film will be shot in China to take advantage of cheaper production costs.

According to variety, Gaiman has just come back from a trip to Yunnan province with Zhang to look at areas that might inspire the scribe, and he has travelled extensively in China personally. Apparently the Chinese are very protective of their Journey to the West story, and that Westerners don't really get it. Gaiman doesn't mind, who says, 

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."

This is definitely a movie to look out for and follow. This has the potential to be extremley epic. What are your thoughts on this film, and the people involved?

Here's a little more information of the story thanks to wiki:

Journey to the West (simplified Chinese: 西游记; traditional Chinese: 西遊記; pinyin: Xī Yóu Jì; Wade–Giles: Hsi-yu chi) is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Originally published anonymously in the 1590s during the Ming Dynasty, its authorship has been ascribed to the scholar Wu Cheng'en since the 20th century. In English-speaking countries, the tale is also often known simply as Monkey. This was one title used for a popular, abridged translation by Arthur Waley. The Waley translation has also been published asAdventures of the Monkey GodMonkey: [A] Folk Novel of China, and The Adventures of Monkey, and in a further abridged version for children, Dear Monkey.

The novel is a fictionalised account of the legendary pilgrimage to India of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang. The monk travelled to the "Western Regions" during the Tang dynasty, to obtain sacred texts (sūtras). TheBodhisattva Guan Yin, on instruction from the Buddha, gives this task to the monk and his three protectors in the form of disciples — namely Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing — together with a dragon prince who acts as Xuanzang's steed, a white horse. These four characters have agreed to help Xuanzang as an atonement for past sins.

Journey to the West has a strong background in Chinese folk religion, Chinese mythology and value systems; the pantheon of Taoist immortals and Buddhist bodhisattvas is still reflective of some Chinese religious beliefs today. Enduringly popular, the tale is at once a adventure story, a spring of spiritual insight, and an extendedallegory in which the group of pilgrims journeying toward India represents individuals journeying towardenlightenment.

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