The Wandering Earth is an astounding achievement for China — not just in being the country’s very first sci-fi blockbuster, but for its out-of-this-world visual effects.
The jaw-dropping effects were created by a cabal of visual effects studios, including Peter Jackson’s famous Weta Workshop, which was behind the Lord of the Rings series, and Pixomondo, which created the dragons for HBO’s Game of Thrones. Two featurettes from both companies delve into the making of the global hit, which has quietly become 2019’s highest-grossing film worldwide.
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The Wandering Earth plays like a sci-fi movie made by an algorithm. You’ve got your doomsday premise, your seedy post-apocalyptic world, your scrappy teen leads, your ambitious space mission to save the Earth from certain destruction. Throw in the operatic bombast of Chinese blockbusters, and you’ve got yourself a hit.
Based off the novella of the same name by Liu Cixin (whose Hugo Award-winning novel The Three-Body Problem is about to receive its own big-budget adaptation from Amazon), The Wandering Earth is being billed as China’s first proper sci-fi blockbuster. And it carries that burden with glorious purpose. The Wandering Earth blends throwback elements that harken to ’90s Hollywood disaster flicks with the sumptuous excess of the Chinese historical epics. It’s a film designed to be a crossover hit — the potential of which has already been spotted by Netflix, which recently picked up the film for streaming. But as manufactured as the film is, The Wandering Earth is so ambitiously action-packed and visually stunning that it’s difficult not to be taken along for the ride.
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The Chinese sci-fi film The Wandering Earth is an international smash. It’s earned $600 million worldwide in a little over two weeks of release, and in China, it’s already the second highest-grossing film of all time. That’s the type of hype Netflix can’t resist, so the streaming giant has snapped up the film with plans to release it soon. The 2,500-year spanning story is set in a future where the sun has died, forcing the inhabitants of Earth to turn the entire planet into a spaceship that they can move across the solar system.
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