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Chinese sci-fi smash 'The Wandering Earth' makes waves overseas
Chinese science fiction movie The Wandering Earth had a slow start at the box office, but quickly gained momentum, creating both domestic and international buzz.
It earned a stunning 2 billion yuan ($295 million) in six days after its release with its eye-catching special effects, decent reviews and solid buzz, making itself the highest-grossing film released over the Spring Festival holiday.
The Wandering Earth was also released in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It has a high attendance rate in these places. Cinemas have correspondingly increased the number of screens showing the film. Many foreign media have noticed this outer-space spectacle's impact and given it laudatory reviews.
A New York Times article deems The Wandering Earth to be the dawning of a new era in China's film industry. "China was a latecomer to space exploration, and in the movies, it has been a latecomer to science fiction, too. That is about to change," according to the article. It connects the movie with China's Chang'e-4 probe, saying, "The openings also come as China reached a milestone in space: the landing of a probe on the far side of the moon in January," commending both China's sci-fi movie and space exploration program.
(Screenshot from theguardian.com)
An article from The Guardian notes that The Wandering Earth marks China's entrance into the cinematic space race, and challenges Hollywood with China's own sci-fi blockbuster. The writer says that China's film market is expected to supersede the US as the world's largest by 2022.
America's The Verge speaks highly of The Wandering Earth, saying this film is a telling illustration of the similarities and differences between Chinese and American values. The reviewer points out that the importance of family connections and the nobility of sacrifice are familiar to American audiences, but the film also places a strong focus on global collective action, on the need for international cooperation, and for the will of the group to triumph over the will of the individual. The reviewer is pretty optimistic about China's film development. "It'll continue to be fascinating to see how the country brings its own distinctive voices and talents into a global market," the reviewer concludes.
It is noteworthy that some media critics partly attribute the film's success to Liu Cixin, the first Chinese winner of Hugo Award for science fiction. His short story was adapted into The Wandering Earth.
(Screenshot from IMDb)
The Wandering Earth scored eight on IMDb (the US renowned online movie database), and it's been hotly discussed on overseas social media and film community websites.
Dave Taylor, a film critic also a sci-fi geek, posts a long and detailed review on US sci-fi website ScienceFiction.com. The review has had an impact, and even been translated completely into Chinese by Wenhui Daily. "The visual effects are stunning and rival the best of Hollywood's sci-fi epics," writes Taylor. Yet he pinpoints some defects and also some theoretical loopholes that the story ignores. For example, in the film, the Earth still had an atmosphere once it stops spinning. Even so, he still recommends audiences to watch The Wandering Earth. He writes, "I say go see it and enjoy a wholly different science fiction epic that marks a milestone in Chinese cinema."
There is still a long way for Chinese sci-fi films to go. If China's filmmaking aims to appeal to global audiences, Chinese own culture and distinctive voices would offer a strong appeal. The Wandering Earth ends with the line, "Regardless of the outcome for the history of mankind, we have decided to choose hope." It is also true that, regardless of the outcome of the development of China's sci-fi film industry, we choose to hope.
And that's People's Daily Tonight. Thanks for joining us.
(Produced by He Jieqiong; text from People's Daily app)