Chinese sci-fi movie ‘The Wandering Earth’ pulls in US$440m in 10 days

Based on a story by author Liu Cixin, the movie about a group of Chinese astronauts trying to save the world from the orbit of an unstable sun premiered on February 5, 2019, the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday. — Picture courtesy of CMC Pictures via AFP-Relaxnews
Based on a story by author Liu Cixin, the movie about a group of Chinese astronauts trying to save the world from the orbit of an unstable sun premiered on February 5, 2019, the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday. — Picture courtesy of CMC Pictures via AFP-Relaxnews

BEIJING, Feb 14 — China’s first science fiction blockbuster, The Wandering Earth, has raked in three billion yuan (RM1.8 billion) in ticket sales in less than 10 days, putting it on track to become the country’s highest-grossing film.

Based on a story by author Liu Cixin, the movie about a group of Chinese astronauts trying to save the world from the orbit of an unstable sun premiered on February 5, the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday.

“It’s a genre that most Chinese people have never seen, and it really touched people,” said Wu Jian, a Beijing-based film analyst with Alibaba Pictures, adding that the film drew families into cinemas during the traditional reunion period.

Figures posted today on the film’s official account on China’s Twitter-like Weibo show the sales were reached in nine days and 16 hours, which analysts and media said broke a record of 10 days and 15 hours set by Wolf Warrior 2.

The patriotic Rambo-style Wolf Warrior 2 is China’s highest-grossing movie, hitting 5.7 billion yuan in box office sales last year.

Analysts forecast ticket sales of The Wandering Earth could hit five billion yuan or more, with Wu saying it had grabbed eyeballs from comedies such as Ning Hao’s Crazy Alien, Stephen Chow’s The New King of Comedy, and Han Han’s Pegasus.

The film also figured in China’s foreign ministry briefing this week.

“I know the hottest movie now is The Wandering Earth, I don’t know if you have watched or not, I’d recommend it,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, while replying to a query about a film whose premiere was cancelled.

Movie box office revenue in China rose nine per cent last year to 61 billion yuan, a slower pace than the year before, as the government cracked down on tax evasion in the industry and tightened rules on content. — Reuters