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Amazon to Spend a Billion Dollars to License "The Three-Body Problem"?

The Three-Body Problem is one of those books that many people have heard of but few have read. Originally published in Chinese, the English translation of this SF novel won a Hugo in 2015.

Now the Financial Times (via io9) says Amazon is willing to spend a billion dollars to secure the tv rights:

The Hugo-winning Chinese novel The Three-Body Problem could become Amazon’s Game of Thrones. A new report from Financial Times suggests Amazon is pursuing a deal to make a three-season television show based on the trilogy from Liu Cixin, and it may be willing to pay up to $1 billion to do so.

According to the Financial Times report, international investors say Amazon is negotiating for the rights to produce three seasons based on Remembrance of Earth’s Past, the scifi trilogy more commonly known by the title of its first book, The Three-Body Problem.

In a statement reported by Chinese news outlets, YooZoo Pictures stated that it remains the sole owners for the film and TV rights for The Three-Body Problem, though it didn’t comment on whether Amazon had approached the company or were in talks with them to collaborate on this reported streaming project. Cixin was also asked about this development by Chinese news outlet, where he revealed he knew nothing about the project and doesn’t know if he’d be invited to work on it. We’ve reached out to Amazon and YooZoo for comment and will update should we hear back.

I would usually call the FT a reputable source but this story doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Yes, I could see Amazon spending millions to secure the rights, but a billion dollars for 3 seasons is a whole other story. If this rumor is true then it would mean that Amazon values this book  almost as much as Fox valued Thursday night NFL games.

Fox is paying $660 million a year to broadcast those football games, and they expect to turn a profit because of the size of the football-watching audience.

According to the rumor, Amazon expects that this book will be worth paying a third of a billion dollars for (per season).

I just don’t see that happening for the simple reason that there’s no way the audience could be that big.

I could see Amazon paying a billion yuan, sure – that is about $160 million.

But a billion dollars?

No offense to the book’s fans, but that doesn’t pass the sniff test.

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Will Entrekin March 29, 2018 um 8:26 am

I wonder if they meant yen. It looks like one billion yen is approx. $9.5 million, which seems like a way more reasonable spend for such a deal.

I’d love to know how much the author would get.

Nate Hoffelder March 29, 2018 um 8:55 am

I thought the tv rights were owned by a Chinese company. Wouldn’t that make yuan more likely?

But yes, yen is another possibility.

Will Entrekin March 29, 2018 um 9:06 pm

Totally right. I didn’t realize auto-correct messed me all up. Scott got the right currency below; much steeper price but not out of the realm of possibility for three seasons lasting several years.

Nate Hoffelder March 29, 2018 um 9:25 pm

I suggested a billion yuan in the post

I do think that is a plausible rate

Scott March 29, 2018 um 1:58 pm

Looking at the highest grossing Chinese films, 1 billion yuan would make sense. Google tells me that would be 159 million US dollars.

boogerman March 30, 2018 um 11:23 am

I have yet to get into the 3rd book. The first was great. The second was flawed but ended strong. The 3rd…I gave after several tries. I guess I’ll try again, but skip all the boring bits.

Nate Hoffelder March 30, 2018 um 1:01 pm

I couldn’t even finish the first book, but that is neither here nor there.

Disgusting Dude March 30, 2018 um 3:40 pm

So it’s like Dune?
A good book followed by a string of milk-the-cow quicky sequels?

Good to know.

Three book solution July 26, 2018 um 8:45 pm

@Disgusting Dude
Its opposite, a common first book is followed by hard core SF in the next books.

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