Netflix 'Three Body Problem' Producer Killed After Poisoning

Chinese billionaire Lin Qi died unexpectedly on Christmas Day at the age of 39, and investigators reportedly believe he may have been poisoned. Lin was the CEO of Chinese video game publisher Yoozoo, and was also meant to be an executive producer on The Three-Body Problem — a highly anticipated sci-fi series coming to Netflix. Lin's death is still under investigation.

Lin's company, Yoozoo, held the adaptation rights to The Three-Body Problem — an acclaimed novel by Chinese author Liu Cixin — until Netflix purchased them this year. Lin would have been credited as an executive producer on the show, along with showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss of Game of Thrones fame. However, Lin's mysterious death got in the way, and local reports all seem to speculate that it was no accident.

According to a report by Variety, Chinese news outlets initially indicated that Lin had drank poison in aged Pu'er tea, but later recanted that claim. Now, the official story is that Lin was poisoned by a colleague, Xu Yao, over "work disputes" that would have resulted in Xu's salary being cut. However, Variety notes that these reports originate with The China Economic Weekly, which has ties to the People's Daily, which is a "mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party."

Other versions of the story are circulating in Chinese media, all describing different ways Lin might have been poisoned. One outlet reportedly claimed that Xu had been detained by police in Shanghai, though it is not clear if he has been charged or is still in custody. So far, Yoozoo has not commented on the circumstances of its CEO's death, but has shared mournful public statements in the press and on social media.

There is no evidence to suggest that Lin's death was directly related to The Three-Body Problem, although it was undoubtedly one of the biggest projects he was working on. The novel is the first in a trilogy, which has now taken the world by storm in 25 languages. The series is highly regarded in the U.S., where it was first published in English in 2014.

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The involvement of Benioff and Weiss raises the projects profile as well — for better or worse. The duo was much maligned in 2019 following the reviled final season of Game of Thrones. Many critics of their work and fans of The Three-Body Problem questioned why Netflix was hiring these two writers, rather than a qualified Chinese producer.

There is no word yet on how Lin's passing may impact the production of The Three-Body Problem. The project does not have a release date, or many other production details just yet.