In The Wandering Earth, the sun will soon expand and destroy the Earth, so engineers concoct an ambitious plan — move the planet to another solar system, using giant engines. China’s first big science fiction film is a goofy disaster movie, with some outstanding special effects that bring the world to life. One of the studios behind the special effects, Pixomondo, has released a VFX breakdown that shows how one of the special effects studios created the futuristic, frozen Earth and its massive Earth engines.
Since its release last month, the film has gone on to earn a staggering $641 million, and has become the second-largest Chinese film to date. That’s a good sign for China’s domestic film market, which has been growing in recent years as more of its citizens go to the movies.
This reel shows off that Pixomondo created much of the film’s numerous locations and features digitally — such as the massive Earth engines, a frozen Beijing, the massive vehicles that the characters drive around, and quite a bit more. Much of the film is digitally generated, showing just how far the industry has come.
Pixomondo has worked on a wide range of films, from Chinese films like Ice Fantasy to Flying over Jiangzi, to US productions such as Wonder Woman, Game of Thrones, and more. In a post, it explains that it was responsible for 216 shots in the film, which included assets for everything from the vehicles to environments, and prompted the company to “build an entirely new scene management pipeline and tools to handle the heavy workload for this project.”
Having good special effects has long been a particular bottleneck for locally-produced science fiction films, as audiences have become accustomed to the level of quality seen in Hollywood releases. Chinese science fiction author and screenwriter Anna Wu told The Verge late last year that investors have been wary of producing big-budget science fiction films, because of that high bar — and there have been missteps along the way. Another film based on Cixin Liu’s (who also wrote The Wandering Earth) The Three-Body Problem, was produced, but has since sat on a shelf, its future uncertain.
If you missed the film’s limited run in the US, you’ll soon be able to catch it on a screen near you: Netflix recently picked up the rights to stream the film.