China’s new year hit “The Wandering Earth 2,” released on Jan. 21, has created waves of enthusiasm among Chinese spectators, as the industry is climbing up the ladder of the sci-fi cinematic universe regardless of the impediments it faces in its domestic space.
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Science fiction movies have always been very popular in the Chinese market, and when “Avatar” was released in China in 2009, there were long queues in front of many theaters, and “Avatar 2,” released at the end of last year, has now achieved a box office of 6.76 billion yuan in China, surpassing its predecessor.
The sequel, “The Wandering Earth,” released in 2019, received a bigger wave of support both domestically and internationally, collecting a whopping $701 million worldwide and eventually becoming China’s fifth highest grossing film of all time.
Written by the first Hugo award-winning author Liu Cixin, who’s also the film’s producer, “The Wandering Earth” was adapted into a spectacular live-action franchise by director Frant Guo and has now reaffirmed China’s foothold in the sci-fi world.
China’s Own “Interstellar Spectacle”
The Hollywood Reporter described ‘The Wandering Earth’ as ‘China’s first full-fledged interstellar spectacle,” making it not only one of the highest-grossing films of all time in that country but also one of the highest-grossing non-English-language films. One of the main reasons for the film’s popularity is its high stakes, monotonous, and colorful narrative.
The significance of the popularity of this sci-fi film has gone beyond a mere film, adding anticipation to the Chinese sci-fi film genre and the development of the sci-fi industry. The sci-fi filmmaker Gong Ge’er believed that by presenting content based on science fiction to the audience, it could create greater economic impact and social repercussions.
The story is set in 2061, when the Sun sweeps through Earth’s orbit and threatens to engulf the earth’s orbit, urging nations to consolidate into the United Earth government (UEG). Together, they embark on a project to move Earth to the Alpha Centauri star system, which is 4.4 light-years away from the current solar system. This award-winning feature shows the destruction that can occur on planets leaving orbit and the measures humanity must take to ensure its survival.
Specifically, it centers around a group of rescuers and astronauts working to keep the wandering Earth on course and prevent a collision with Jupiter. The overall effort is a brilliant and daring sci-fi adventure full of perfect tension and stunning visuals, making it a global hit to explore.
‘The Wandering Earth’ to Lay the Groundwork
In the face of the comprehensive upgrade of film production, many viewers believed: “Details and texture are really the benchmark of the Chinese film industry, and the rhythm is tense and exciting! waiting for a new record! In the production of special effects, it not only has a very delicate futuristic texture but also makes a realistic sense in line with the direction of scientific and technological development, presenting a convincing near-future world.”
Meanwhile, Gong believes that Chinese sci-fi films account for a small proportion of the film industry due to the lack of excellent films and the lack of follow-up industrial development links. In the case of the domestic science fiction industry, book publishing is still mainstream, and the development of science fiction films can further promote pluralistic development.
In the case of Hollywood, animation and science fiction films have a perfect industry line, so even if a film fails at the box office, it can make money through toys, design rights, etc. “The U.S. sci-fi and animation industry is backed by large media groups such as Disney and Dreamworks and has excellent market promotion, production, and marketing-related derivatives know-how, so this complete industry line operation is something that local Chinese companies should especially benchmark.”
Gong hoped that the development of mainland science fiction films would create a better creative environment for science fiction genre writers so that their imaginations and creative abilities could be unleashed, and excellent content would be continuously produced.
“In order to successfully create peripheral derivatives, it is important to explore the image of the film felt by the audience, which requires constant word of mouth from the audience. At present, China’s film derivatives operating system is not yet perfect, and it does not have an industrial system including science and technology R&D applications. Therefore, the industry should not be in a hurry and instead strive to make a good film first. We hope that the tools and backgrounds featured in the film will be of assistance and a reference to latecomers,” he added.