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Only one Netflix new release matters next week, and everyone will have an opinion about it

Published Mar 16th, 2024 12:05PM EDT
3 Body Problem on Netflix
Image: Ed Miller/Netflix

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To say there’s a lot riding on the release of Netflix’s epic sci-fi drama 3 Body Problem would be the understatement of the year.

This eight-episode adaptation of one of the most celebrated sci-fi novels of all time — Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem, from his Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy — represents, among other things, the first post-Game of Thrones project from showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to come to fruition. And it better deliver, because Netflix broke its own record in terms of the budget for this alien invasion saga (which debuts on March 21).

With a reported per-episode budget of $20 million, amounting to $160 million in total, 3 Body Problem currently holds the record for the most expensive premiere season in Netflix history.

And, still, the stakes are so high for even more reasons. For another thing, the source material is quite cerebral, and you wouldn’t necessarily expect it to lend itself to an entertaining, American-style TV drama. The plot concerns the revelation that an alien race is coming to take over Earth 450 years from now, and the story really doesn’t kick up a notch until you get into the second book of the trilogy.

And we can still keep going with the gamble that is this highly anticipated drama, the cast of which is sprinkled with some familiar faces from Game of Thrones like Liam Cunningham and John Bradley. The version of 3 Body Problem that exists in the novel is also a very China-centric story, with names and cultural references that go right over the head of most Americans — so the creators here, who also include Alexander Woo, decided to internationalize both the story and the cast.

3 Body Problem on Netflix
John Bradley as Jack Rooney in “3 Body Problem.”

Doing that is risky, of course, because to take that to an extreme is to change the core story into, well, something else.

Netflix, for its part, has certainly gone all-out in the lead-up to the show’s debut, which included earlier this year the streamer making its first major presence at CES since 2018. Netflix hosted a press preview for 3 Body Problem at the annual tech expo in Las Vegas, complete with VR headsets for journalists to try out.

As with any of the Netflix releases that debut from one week to the next, there are no guarantees when it comes to this major new series, never mind the beloved source material or the show-running talent behind it. Big budgets don’t ensure success, and a show like this 3 Body Problem that asks its viewers to think about deep, philosophical ideas (like what humanity owes to future generations) has a big task ahead of itself. The only thing we can say with any certainty about the new series, at least for the moment, is that everybody will have an opinion about it.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.