Wandering Earth on track to be one of highest grossing films in country’s history
China has entered the cinematic space race. Wandering Earth, the country’s first blockbuster sci-fi film, is on track to be one of the highest grossing films in China’s history.
The film has brought in more than 2bn yuan (£232m) in the six days since its release on 5 February, lunar new year. So far, it is the highest grossing film released over the holiday season, a peak time for the Chinese box office.
Set in the distant future, the governments of Earth, confronted with annihilation from an unstable sun, have strapped thrusters on to the planet, ejecting it out into the universe in search of a new home. But as the Earth approaches Jupiter, a malfunction in the system puts it on course to crash into the planet.
Described as a cross between Armageddon and 2001: Space Odyssey, the film is seen by some as the dawn of Chinese sci-fi – a genre that has long been dominated by Hollywood. Several other Chinese made films set in space are set to debut this year, including Shanghai Fortress, an alien invasion of earth, and Pathfinder, which follows a spaceship that crashes into a deserted planet.
“2019 could be remembered as year zero of Chinese science fiction blockbusters. It is not just about one successful movie, but about the emergence of multiple films,” Frant Gwo, the director of Wandering Earth, told the government web portal China.org.cn.
China is already home to a thriving science and speculative fiction literary scene. Wandering Earth is based on the work of Liu Cixin, the author of the Three Body Problem series and the first Chinese author to win the Hugo award,
“The Wandering Earth fills the gap in Chinese science-fiction movies. It means that China’s science fiction movies have officially set sail,” one fan of the film wrote on the review site Douban.
Some noted that unlike many Chinese blockbusters, Wandering Earth dials back on the patriotism. Rescue teams from around the world scramble to get the thrusters back up and running. A Russian soldier sacrifices his life to help a Chinese colleague.
“This is not a patriotic film but a film about humans saving themselves,” one reviewer said.