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The Wandering Earth: news and updates for China’s biggest science fiction movie

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One of 2019’s biggest films has mostly slipped under the radar outside of its native China: The Wandering Earth, a movie billed as China’s first cinematic science fiction blockbuster.

The film is based on a novelette by The Three-Body Problem author Cixin Liu that follows the efforts of scientists and engineers who discover that the sun will destroy the Earth within the next century. To save humanity, they hatch an ambitious plan to use thousands of mountain-sized rocket engines to move Earth out of its orbit and travel around Jupiter to slingshot the planet toward another star 4.2 light-years away. But as they do so, the engine system fails, and teams have to rush to reactivate them before Earth crashes into Jupiter.

While the film has been enormously popular in China, it had a more limited release across the world. That will soon change, as Netflix has purchased the rights to stream the film worldwide.

  • Tasha Robinson

    May 6, 2019

    Tasha Robinson

    China’s blockbuster The Wandering Earth is gorgeous, goofy, and on Netflix now

    Photo: AMC Theaters

    This review was originally published in February 2019, when the film was released in China, and in a limited theatrical run in America. It has been updated to reflect the film’s release on Netflix.

    We’re living through a fascinating era of rapid change for the blockbuster movie model. America producers, eager to get their $200 million movies into the lucrative Chinese market, are increasingly looking for Chinese production partners, shooting in Chinese locations, and adding China-friendly characters and plotlines to American movies, even including extra scenes just for the Chinese cuts of films. But simultaneously, China and other countries are moving toward the blockbuster model themselves, creating homegrown films that don’t need to involve American partners at all.

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  • Mar 3, 2019

    Andrew Liptak

    Watch how a studio created The Wandering Earth’s fantastic world in this VFX reel

    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.

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  • Feb 21, 2019

    Andrew Liptak

    China’s blockbuster The Wandering Earth is coming to Netflix

    Photo: AMC Theaters

    Netflix has acquired the streaming rights for The Wandering Earth, China’s first science fiction blockbuster, which has earned more than $600 million in theaters since its release during the Chinese New Year.

    Based on a novelette by Three-Body Problem author Cixin Liu, the film follows a worldwide effort to move the Earth away from the sun after scientists discover it will soon expand and destroy humanity’s solar system. As the planet approaches Jupiter to slingshot out of the system and out to Proxima Centauri, a group of characters struggles to restart Earth’s failing transport engines and save Earth from being dragged into the gas giant’s gravity well and engulfed.

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  • Jan 27, 2019

    Andrew Liptak

    A new trailer for The Wandering Earth shows off a desperate plan to save the planet

    A new trailer for The Wandering Earth — described as China’s biggest science fiction movie ever — landed earlier this week, showing off an ambitious adventure that follows the efforts to save Earth after scientists discover that the sun is about to go out.

    The movie is based on a story by Chinese author Cixin Liu — who’s best known for his Three-Body Problem trilogy and last year’s Ball Lightning. While those books are huge, epic stories, The Wandering Earth is no less ambitious: when scientists realize that the sun will go out in a couple of decades, they hatch a desperate plan: to move the planet to Proxima Centauri. The construct thousands of giant engines to move the planet out of orbit, where it can then slingshot post Jupiter and out of the Solar System.

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  • Oct 31, 2018

    Andrew Liptak

    The Wandering Earth could be China’s breakout sci-fi blockbuster film

    China isn’t typically known for its science fiction blockbusters, but a new trailer for an upcoming film called The Wandering Earth has all the hallmarks of a big, Hollywood-style genre movie: it features a dramatic story of the Earth in peril, complete with eye-popping scenes of spaceships escaping Earth.

    The Wandering Earth is based on a story by Cixin Liu, the author best known for The Three-Body Problem, and, more recently, Ball Lightning. In the original story, scientists discovered that the sun is on the verge of turning into a red giant, and when it does, it’ll expand beyond the orbit of Mars, incinerating all of the solar system’s potentially habitable planets. They concoct a desperate plan to move Earth out of the solar system to a new star, Proxima Centauri.

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