Netflix Drops 'The Wandering Earth' On Its Service With Zero Fanfare

Amid all the hoopla about how much money Avengers: Endgame has made, one little sci-fi film maintains its No. 3 spot on the highest-grossing movies of 2019. The Wandering Earth is the biggest movie that barely anyone in the West has heard of: China's second highest-grossing film of all time, 2019's third highest-grossing film worldwide, the second highest-grossing non-English film of all time, and one of the top 20 highest-grossing science fiction films of all time. But despite the massive box office success of The Wandering Earth in China, it's already arrived on the international stage with precious little fanfare. With barely an announcement, The Wandering Earth Netflix release has already taken place.

This weekend, Netflix quietly released The Wandering Earth on its streaming platform without announcing the release nor including it in its official lists of new shows and movies coming to the service in May. It's a stark difference from the sci-fi blockbuster's reception in China, where it raked in $693 million at the box office.

It's a sad disservice to a movie that is surprisingly entertaining piece of sci-fi spectacle. In my review of the film when it opened in select New York theaters, I wrote, "Despite some of its more nationalistic tendencies, The Wandering Earth is inarguably a wholly entertaining interstellar spectacle. If this is just the start of the sci-fi genre for the Chinese movie industry, then we can set sky-high expectations for the future."

When Netflix acquired the film February, the company seemed willing to throw its support behind the blockbuster. "Netflix is committed to providing entertainment lovers with access to a wide variety of global content. With its high-quality production and story-telling, we believe that The Wandering Earth will be loved by Sci-Fi fans around the world," Jerry Zhang, Manager of Content Acquisition at Netflix, said at the time. But Netflix appears to not be living up to those lofty words.

The Wandering Earth doesn't yet appear under "New Releases" or "Netflix Originals" section, Bleeding Cool noted, though it shows up on the "Recently Added" list when you scroll down. It seems odd to bury this film after the incredible reception it's received overseas (even worldwide, it's cracked $700 million), and Netflix's enthusiasm when the company first acquired it.

Here is the synopsis of The Wandering Earth:

The sun is dying out. The earth will soon be engulfed by the inflating sun. To save the human civilization, scientists draw up an escape plan that will bring the whole human race from danger. With the help of thousands of infusion powered engines, the planet earth will leave the solar system and embark on a 2,500 year journey to the orbit of a star 4.5 light years away.