BEIJING — A Chinese shingle is planning to take the country’s current 3-D craze to the small screen with a 45-episode costume drama “Wu Cheng-en and the Journey to the West,” based on an ancient Chinese legend.

Producer Wu Qiuyun told the Beijing News that he believes the 130-million-yuan ($19 million) skein is the first 3-D TV series in the world. The project has been five years in the making and still has 18 months of post-production to complete. Some 90 million yuan ($13 million) of the budget went on the 3-D effects.

Keen to ensure the drama is not seen as a gimmick because of its high-tech credentials, the producers have reunited the original stars of the 1986 skein “Journey to the West,” a production which is one of the most famous TV shows in Chinese history. LiuXiao Lingtong, Chi Chongrui and Ma Dehua will all be involved in the skein.

LiuXiao Lingtong will play the Monkey King in the drama and will also play the original author Wu Cheng-en. Liu Dagang will take the place of Sha Wujing, who died in the interim.

The drama began shooting in Hengdian studios two years ago, but the producer did not release the fact that it would contain 3-D scenes, because they were worried the technology would not work. Each 45-minute episode will contain around 10 minutes of 3-D scenes.

“This drama is about the arduous process of Wu Cheng-en’s writing “The Journey to the West.” But if the main storyline was only Wu Cheng-en, that may affect the audience ratings. So we put the same actors in “The Journey to the West” together, and re-filmed some parts of it, and then made those into 3-D,” said Wu.

The producers have created special glasses for watching the skein, and plans to distribute them through large-scale marketing events.

“If the audience watches the drama without three-dimensional glasses, the image will be slightly doubled,” he said.

China’s first 3-D toon, “The Carnival of The Animals,” was released earlier this year. It was produced by the animation unit of the giant state ‘caster CCTV, and includes the voices of some of CCTV Children’s Channel leading hosts Ju Ping, Dong Hao and Liu Chunyan.