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First China-made sci-fi blockbuster inspires hope for new sci-fi era
2019-02-02 

"The Wandering Earth," which is considered the first China-made sci-fi blockbuster, will be released across the country during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.

A poster of "The Wandering Earth," which is considered the first China-made sci-fi blockbuster. [File Photo: VCG]

A poster of "The Wandering Earth," which is considered the first China-made sci-fi blockbuster. [File Photo: VCG]

In many people's eyes, the movie, adapted from a short story by Liu Cixin, a Hugo Award winner in 2015, and staring Wu Jing, the Wolf Warrior franchise actor, may usher in a new era of big-budget, hard-core and domestically produced sci-fi movies.

"The Wandering Earth" tells a story of an epic project to move the Earth and its 3.5 billion residents to a remote star system in the near future because the sun is dying and about to swallow up the Earth.

The project involves building 10,000 giant planet thrusters to push the Earth out of its orbit. Meanwhile, the population is moved underground, as the surface is too cold for people to live.

Apart from the spectacular visuals, the film features typical Chinese elements, such as Spring Festival celebrations in the underground city and typical examples of Chinese parenting.

All the props and scenes in the film are made and built by Chinese crew members, and 75 percent of the special effects are produced by Chinese companies. But according to Guo Fan, director of the movie, it is the core emotion expressed in the movie that truly makes it feature a unique Chinese flavor.

"If Hollywood was to make such a film, the solution would probably be to migrate all the human beings by spaceship. But the Chinese people, dedicated to the land, would come up with the idea of taking Earth on an interstellar escape," Guo said. "That's Chinese sci-fi."

According to a report released by Southern University of Science and Technology, China's science fiction industry is experiencing a boost with its output value exceeding 10 billion yuan (about 1.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2017, up 13.8 percent from the previous year.

In the first half of 2018, the total box office of science fiction films was 9.5 billion yuan, but domestic sci-fi films accounted for less than 10 percent.

China's sci-fi film market has formed and begun to take shape, but Chinese filmmakers have been considered weak in this genre. Sci-fi movies in China have been mostly Hollywood imports.

"The Wandering Earth" is not the only domestic sci-fi movie set to hit the big screen in 2019. "Crazy Alien" and "Shanghai Fortress" will also be released this year.

Han Song, a famous Chinese sci-fi writer, envisaged great potential in sci-fi movie production with a boom in copyright transaction of films in this genre in China.

The subsequent release of sci-fi films is "likely to start the chain of development of China's entire sci-fi industry," he said.

According to statistics on Maoyan, China's professional movie app, as of Feb. 2, the pre-sale box office of "The Wandering Earth" reached 56.8 million yuan.

The Spring Festival falls on Feb. 5 this year. It is a peak time for China's box office, the world's second-largest film market. Last year, cinemas raked in more than 5.7 billion yuan during the holiday.

"The Wandering Earth" has already gone through several test screenings and received good reviews.

Hailing the movie as unexpectedly successful during the premiere on Monday, Liu Cixin said: "It's a very good start for a domestic sci-fi movie."

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