Chinese Sci-Fi Blockbuster Draws Crowds on Opening Day

‘The Wandering Earth’ — a big-budget adaptation of a Liu Cixin novel — is expected to spark deeper interest in homegrown science fiction.

Chinese film fans ushered in the Year of the Pig with a new single-day box-office record on Tuesday, with the country’s first big-budget sci-fi blockbuster, “The Wandering Earth,” contributing a significant share.

In all, eight movies were released yesterday, garnering total box-office takings of 1.46 billion yuan ($207 million), breaking the previous record of 1.28 billion yuan set on the first day of Lunar New Year 2018. The much-anticipated “The Wandering Earth” took an estimated 186 million yuan ($27.5 million), according to ticketing site Maoyan.

Based on a short novel of the same name by Liu Cixin — China’s first science-fiction author to win the prestigious Hugo Award — “The Wandering Earth” has been four years in the making and cost around $50 million to make. The story takes place in an apocalyptic future where, as the sun dies, the world government decides to physically move Earth away from destruction and embark on a centuries-long voyage to a new solar system. But humanity is threatened with annihilation almost immediately, when scientists discover that Earth is on an apparent collision course with Jupiter. In the end, it is left to a rebellious young man named Liu Qi — played by up-and-coming actor Qu Chuxiao — and his father, a Chinese astronaut, to come to the rescue.

“The Wandering Earth” has attracted attention both at home and abroad for being China’s first big-budget sci-fi blockbuster. Science fiction as a whole is becoming increasingly popular in China, partly thanks to the success of Liu Cixin’s award-winning trilogy “The Three-Body Problem.” But although the country’s domestic movie industry is growing rapidly — churning out around 1,000 titles per year, according to consulting firm Askci — Hollywood films still constitute the bulk of the country’s sci-fi releases. Read the full article here.


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.