For those who have been following international cinema even lightly over the last few decades, Wong Kar-Wai is as recognizable a name as David Fincher, Steven Spielberg, or J.J. Abrams. He’s the preeminent auteur of the Chinese cinema, and perhaps the most ravishing, romantic filmmaker currently working in any country on this planet. One wouldn’t need to see much more than Kar-wai’s last film, his hypnotic The Grandmaster, to know how uniquely talented he is, but the man has been around for years upon years and has been responsible for some of the most influential foreign films that have been made in the 1990s and aughts.
Now, he seems primed to hit the small screen, as The Playlist reports that Kar-wai is set to direct an extended series for Chinese backers. The series has no title or synopsis yet, but it’s big-enough news to know that Kar-wai will be taking on this extensive project, an ambition artistic endeavor even by his sizable standards. The series will run for 18 episodes in China, and will be offered via a streaming platform in the country, which means that Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu are probably having a very busy morning. Reports say that the series will be split into two seasons, a first that will run for 12 episodes and a second that will run for 6. No casting has been announced as of yet, but the series looks to be ready to premiere some time in 2017.
This is very new territory for the director, but major international and domestic directors have had a long history of taking on similar projects. R.W. Fassbinder created what might have been his ultimate masterwork with Berlin Alexanderplatz, which ran on German television; Jean-Luc Godard also directed at least two mini-series for French television. And what exactly is the first season of House of Cards if not a long rumination on Fincher’s most beloved thematic ideas and visual idiosyncrasies? One must expect that, barring any major creative constraints, this series will allow Kar-wai a similar opportunity as those filmmakers and visual artists.