The Wandering Earth is China’s biggest sci-fi blockbuster (and it’s coming to the US)
But the film that’s coming to America doesn’t actually have any Americans in it
So the Sun’s about to die. And Earth is the only planet we have. What do we do?
That is the basic premise of The Wandering Earth, which is billed as China’s biggest science fiction blockbuster to date.
The movie depicts the solution: Build enormous thrusters around the planet to slingshot it into a new star system. And in the meantime, we’ll live in underground cities during the centuries-long voyage.
If you find it insane but bizarrely interesting, well, you might be able to see the film this weekend: It’s set to have a theatrical release in select cities in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The movie has already done gangbusters in China, pocketing over US$74 million in just three days. There’s tremendous amount of hype around it -- it’s a marquee title for the Lunar New Year holiday in China, and the story is adapted from Hugo Award winner Liu Cixin's novel of the same name. (For you sci-fi geeks out there, Liu is the one behind the famed Three-Body Problem).
The Wandering Earth has been seen as China's first foray into the cinematic space race. While Hollywood has been steadily churning out space movies like Apollo 13, Gravity and First Man, China didn’t have a respectable space film until now.
But the odd thing about it is that this film is coming to the US -- but it’s also conspicuous for the lack of Americans in it, something noticed by Western reviewers.
“The United Earth Government has Russians, French, English and other nations represented, but no Americans,” says one review.
(If you broaden the definition of life, you can argue that the HAL 9000-esque sentient computer system in the film is American, but it’d be the only one.)
It seems bizarre and a deliberate oversight to cut Americans out of a global coalition -- but on the flipside, plenty of American films downplay other countries, so it’s funny to see this from the other side.