A still from 3 Body Problem.
You don’t have to wait to see Liu Cixin’s sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem turned into TV. Does that mean Netflix is moving up the release date of 3 Body Problem, its upcoming adaptation from Alexander Woo and the creators of Game of Thrones? Nope, that’s still scheduled for March 21. But if you’re okay with overcoming that one-inch barrier of subtitles, another version is actually already available. Three-Body, a Chinese adaptation from Tencent, aired in China last year. As of publication time, it remains available to stream on Rakuten Viki and Prime Video. And per The Hollywood Reporter, Peacock has now acquired the rights to Three-Body for a February 10 drop, just in time for Lunar New Year. NBCUniversal isn’t hiding the fact that the timing is tied to its rival streamer. A press release states, “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.”
Naturally, these two adaptations have their differences — for example, Tencent used 30 episodes to cover the contents of the book, while Netflix will use just 8 episodes. While that seems to suggest that it won’t be as faithful to the plot, there’s at least one aspect you can expect to see more of in Netflix’s take. Derek Tsang, who directed the first two episodes, previously told THR that 3 Body Problem incorporates parts of the book that were set in the Cultural Revolution. Tencent’s version, in contrast, has faced criticism for not showing as much of that real-life period of upheaval and eliminating plot points involving the Red Guard. Which Problem will fans prefer? We bet Netflix and Peacock are both excited for the answer.