Netflix’s big gamble, “3 Body Problem” – created by “Game of Thrones” masterminds David Benioff and D.B.Weiss with Alexander Woo – opened Lille’s Series Mania on Friday, immediately dividing the viewers on a series well reviewed by Variety

“It’s a very ambitious show and it has a great scale, but I wonder when all the hooks they got into me will reward me with knowledge. I see a lot of potential, but I don’t see a clear path,” actor Malick Bauer told Variety after the screening. One of this year’s International Competition jurors, he is known for the first German Disney+ series “Sam – A Saxon.” 

“It can be a great thing, but I do worry if the audience will be given their time. It’s one of the biggest problems in today’s shows: You need to capture people right away, otherwise they will find something else. Is it too slow? For a media consumer in 2024, yes. For an artist, no. It’s a bit like watching ‘Lost’ all over again. I am willing to wait, but I am not sure if the market will follow.” 

Director Bertrand Desrochers, behind miniseries “Les Oubliettes,” added:  “It reminded me of ‘Dune,’ where the first movie served as a trailer for the second one. ‘Oh look, Zendaya! If you give me money for another one, I will show you more of her.’ It’s all about building this suspense.” 

With several industry players opting to go off the record, calling the first two episodes “slow,” “overcomplicated” and “cold,” and quite a few walkouts after the pilot, “3 Body Problem” might not be able to follow into “GoT’s” crowd-pleasing footsteps. It might, however, earn cult status. 

“I am very surprised this is their next step after ‘GoT,’ but it’s great that they are taking a chance. They could have done whatever they wanted, especially something similar. Instead, they said: ‘We are going to grab that cult book, which is considered to be unfilmable,’” laughs journalist François Busnel, praising the show’s cliffhangers.

Adapted from the Chinese science-fiction saga by Cixin Liu, “3 Body Problem” dives into humankind’s first contact with an alien civilization. “This is a story of what happens when laws of the universe start to break and what it means for all humanity, but particularly for a tight-knit group of friends and colleagues solving the mystery before time runs out,” explained Woo in a short video introduction.  

“This show is really all about literature. It’s choral: You have so many characters and they are well-written, but it’s also slow and very intellectual. Personally, I love the fact that we have all this time. It’s a little too much, it’s true, but it doesn’t matter,” adds Busnel.  

“Can I tell you something? I haven’t seen ‘GoT’. I feel like an alien right now,” says Camélia Jordana, singer and star of Disney + series “Irrésistible,” also set to deliver a masterclass at the fest. 

“I left the screening wanting to know more. About everyone! How did it start, what’s the idea?! The way it’s structured, there are really two options: Either you don’t get it at all and move on, or you try to follow these different timelines. I am actually surprised I want to find out more, because there was so much I didn’t understand. Usually, if that’s the case, I am done. Now, I need to know what’s going on!” 

Influencer Louise Aubery, known as MyBetterSelf, echoes the sentiment. 

“I do have a lot of questions, but I am eager to finally connect these dots. This show is a constant enigma,” she notes.

“It’s sci-fi, but I feel like they have mastered the art of making it realistic and that’s always the difficult part. I was hooked. Sometimes, we watch shows just to chill and have a good time, but this one will create some debates. We are definitely missing some information, but I liked that it was touching upon the subject of mental health. It’s great it’s becoming a recurring topic these days.” 

With some SeriesMania guests comparing the show to the ambiguous and often emotionally distant works of Christopher Nolan – “You don’t get it and you get a feeling they don’t really care if you do” – others revelled in its lack of answers. 

“I don’t like it when things are too simple. It’s boring,” says novelist Delphine de Vigan, behind “Based on a True Story” adapted by Roman Polański. 

“I don’t like ‘easy,’ so I enjoyed these two episodes. I had to work for it and try to catch all the connections between the characters. I have two kids and they are the same: Simple is not what they are looking for these days either.” 

Before the screening, stars John Bradley and Jess Hong presented the show. 

“Luckily for me, when I first read the scripts, I hadn’t yet read the books and their writing speaks for itself. It’s enthralling and it captures you. They are incredible when it comes to writing characters and relationships. I was crying, laughing and gasping. I was so captivated,” admitted Hong. 

“We had a physicist consultant and he introduced us to his students. We went to Oxford University to talk to these two students, 18 or 19 years old and smarter than I’ll be in 100 years, but what struck me was that they are just… people. They go to a bar to have a drink after a long day, they have relationships, friendships and fights. That’s what I held onto.” 

Eiza González, Benedict Wong, Rosalind Chao, Jovan Adepo and Jonathan Pryce are also in the cast, alongside Benioff and Weiss’ regular Bradley – praised by Series Mania general director Laurence Herszberg for the fact that unlike so many others, his character in “GoT” “never died.” 

“The great thing about their writing in ‘GoT’ and ‘3 Body Problem’ is that it takes these huge swings and creates these huge worlds, but they are very careful to put real characters in them. They know that if you don’t care about these people, you won’t care about the stakes,” he observed. His character, Jack Rooney, wasn’t in the novels. 

“This show is based on books, which is a blessing and a curse, because there is a group of people that can be disappointed if we don’t get the adaptation right. But because he isn’t in the books, it’s not my fault,” he joked. 

“‘GoT’ was huge when it came to the scope, but this is probably even bigger. Part of our show takes place in China in the 1960s, part takes place in the here and now, part takes place in the VR video game. We started shooting nearly three years ago, so it has been a long road, but we are very confident and we hope people will like it. It feels like it will be something you have never seen before.” 

“3 Body Problem” premieres on Netflix on March 21.