Netflix Acquires Chinese Sci-Fi Blockbuster 'The Wandering Earth'

Beijing Culture
Wu Jing in 'The Wandering Earth'

Considered China's first sci-fi action film produced at a Hollywood scale, the movie has earned over $610 million at the Chinese box office.

China's first big-screen adventures in outer-space will soon be landing on Netflix.

The global streaming giant has picked up U.S. and international online rights to The Wandering Earth, the hit sci-fi blockbuster that has earned $610 million at Chinese cinemas since the start of February.

Considered China's first major science fiction movie, The Wandering Earth is directed by Frant Gwo and stars Chinese action hero Wu Jing, the writer, director and star of Wolf Warrior 2, the military action flick that earned a historic $850 million in China in 2017.

Perhaps most notable for international sci-fi fans, the movie is an adaptation of a short story by author Liu Cixin, whose novel The Three-Body Problem won the Hugo Award in 2015 — China's first win of science fiction's highest honor.

The Wandering Earth's action revolves around the imminent explosion of the sun, which prompts humanity to attempt to propel planet earth outside of the solar system to find a new celestial home in deep space. Set in the distant future, China — realistically, perhaps? — plays a key leadership role in world affairs and helps drive the survival mission.

The film has been noted both for its production values and its uniquely Chinese take on the sci-fi genre. "I wanted to show international audiences that a Chinese sci-fi can offer a new point of view," Gwo told THR in an exclusive interview

“The movie is a majestic feast for the eyes with massive production scale rarely seen in Mandarin films," Netflix said in a statement Thursday. "Its postproduction and special effects work spanned two years, undergoing more than 3,000 conceptual designs, and featuring over 10,000 specifically-built props, while employing an impressive 2,000 special effects shots and a substantial amount of computer graphics shots,” the company added. 

The Wandering Earth is co-produced by China Film Group and Beijing Culture, the studio behind Wolf Warrior 2 and last summer's hit drama Dying to Survive ($451 million). 

“Netflix is committed to providing entertainment lovers with access to a wide variety of global content. With its high-quality production and storytelling, we believe that The Wandering Earth will be loved by sci-fi fans around the world,” added Jerry Zhang, manager of content acquisition at Netflix.

No word yet on when Netflix will release The Wandering Earth across its worldwide service. 

Netflix is blocked within China because of Beijing's ban on direct foreign content channels in the country. But the company has been modestly boosting its collection of high-profile Chinese content.

Last year, Netflix acquired global rights to Chinese teen thriller Animal World and romantic drama Us and Them, and pre-bought all non-China rights to animated feature Over the Moon, set to be directed by veteran animator Glen Keane (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) for Shanghai's Pearl Studio (formerly Oriental DreamWorks). Netflix has also scooped up several Chinese TV dramas, including Youku's detective series Day and Night and iQiyi's remake of Sony Pictures Television’s psychological thriller Chosen.