Continuing to branch out into screenwriting, with a co-writer credit on Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf and an episode of Doctor Who under his belt, Neil Gaiman (The Sandman) has announced plans to pen an English language outline of Chinese classic Journey to the West for television producer Zhang Jizhong.

THR reports that the project, a long-planned endeavour to bring the misadventures of the Monkey King to the big screen, is already alleged to cost approximately $300 million to make, and will source the majority of its funding from Jizhong’s native China.

With little over a month to plan a story that will draw sufficient investment for the film-makers to start hiring a cast and crew, Gaiman and Jizhong have met with James Cameron and courted Guillermo Del Toro for assistance in translating the Monkey King’s misadventure for international audiences.

“We have to do what Peter Jackson did with Lord of The Rings. We have to make it filmic, non-episodic. This story is in the DNA of 1.5 billion people.”

With the two required to communicating through interpreters, Gaiman is quick to point out that there will be no such communication difficulties with Journey to the West. In the writer’s opinion, Journey to the West is about as Chinese as Romeo and Juliet is English – a good sign when a Gnomic reimagining of the latter recently grossed in excess of $128,800,955 worldwide.

“To the West, there’s nothing inherently not interesting about Journey to the West. It has the best bad guys. That’s absolutely universal.”

It’s not like we’re unfamiliar with the Monkey King anyway. With an opera written by Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett (Gorillaz) doing big business across Europe and the U.S. and a cameo in 2008’s The Forgotten Kingdom, the character has certainly been preparing for his inevitable cinematic close up.