Netflix has made a splashy international play by acquiring the rights to director Frant Gwo’s The Wandering Earth, which has become a box office smash of epic proportions in China. The feature, being marketed as China’s first truly “international” and mainstream sci-fi epic, has made a truly mind-boggling $603 million at the Chinese box office in only 14 days, and still has weeks left to run. That puts it at #2 in the all-time Chinese gross, behind only 2017’s action spectacle Wolf Warrior 2.
The Wandering Earth is adapted from a 2000 novella of the same name by Chinese author Liu Cixin, and tells the story of a mission to save the planet by moving the entire thing out of range of our dying sun. Netflix’s full synopsis is as follows:
The Wandering Earth tells the story of a close future in which the sun is about to expand into a red giant and devour the Earth, prompting mankind to make an audacious attempt to save planet. The multi-generational heroes build ten-thousand stellar engines in an effort to propel Planet Earth out the solar system, in the hope of finding a new celestial home. During the 2,500 year-long journey, a group of daring heroes emerge to defend human civilization from unexpected dangers and new enemies, and to ensure the survival of humanity in this age of the wandering Earth.
Well, we’re certainly lucky that doesn’t seem to be in the projections for Earth’s “close future,” at least from where we’re currently standing. Regardless, the film features a cast of Chinese actors, including Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjie, Ng Man-tat, Zhao Jinmai and Wu Jing. No release date has yet been announced.
“The movie is a majestic feast for the eyes with massive production scale rarely seen in Mandarin films,” Netflix said. “Its post-production and special effects work spanned two years, undergoing more than 3,000 conceptual designs, and featuring over 10,000 specifically built props, while employing an impressive 2,000 special effects shots and a substantial amount of computer graphics shots.”
As a service, Netflix isn’t available in China, where it has failed to pass through the tightly restricted government control, although it has licensed some of its programming in the past through Chinese streaming service iQIYI. There’s no telling if The Wandering Earth will ultimately represent some kind of deeper level of cooperation between Netflix and the Chinese media market, but sci-fi fans in the U.S. will at least have an opportunity to see what so captivated Chinese audiences. Check out the trailer for The Wandering Earth below.