The Wandering Earth

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The Wandering Earth
Chinese theatrical release poster
Hanyu Pinyinliúlàng dìqiú
Directed byFrant Gwo
Written by
  • Gong Ge'er
  • Yan Dongxu
  • Frant Gwo
  • Ye Junce
  • Yang Zhixue
  • Wu Yi
  • Ye Ruchang
Based on"The Wandering Earth" (Chinese: 流浪地球)
by Liu Cixin
Produced byGong Ge'er
CinematographyMichael Liu
Edited byCheung Ka-fai
Music by
  • Roc Chen
  • Liu Tao (additional music)
Distributed byChina Film Group Corporation
Release date
  • 5 February 2019 (2019-02-05)
Running time
125 minutes
Budget$50 million[1]
Box office$700 million[2][3]

The Wandering Earth (Chinese: 流浪地球; pinyin: liúlàng dìqiú) is a 2019 Chinese science fiction film directed by Frant Gwo, loosely based on the 2000 short story of the same name by Liu Cixin about taking the Earth and pushing it somewhere else. The film stars Wu Jing, Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjie, Ng Man-tat, Zhao Jinmai and Qu Jingjing. Set in the far future, it follows a group of astronauts and rescue workers guiding the Earth away from an expanding Sun, while attempting to prevent a collision with Jupiter. The film was theatrically released in China on 5 February 2019 (Chinese New Year's Day), by China Film Group Corporation.

The film grossed $701 million worldwide. It is China's fifth highest-grossing film of all time and the fifth highest-grossing non-English film to date. It has received generally positive reviews from critics, with The Hollywood Reporter describing it as "China's first full-scale interstellar spectacular."[4] Netflix acquired the film's global streaming rights[5] and began streaming outside China on 30 April 2019.[6] A second film, The Wandering Earth 2, was released in January 2023, serving as a prequel.[7]


In the year 2058, an anomalously expanding red giant Sun threatens to engulf the Earth within 100 years. The world's nations are forced to consolidate into a world government and construct 12,000 enormous fusion-powered "Earth Engines" to thrust Earth out of the Solar System. Before going on his mission aboard the Navigation Platform International Space Station, Chinese astronaut Liu Peiqiang leaves his son Qi in the care of his father-in-law Han Zi'ang. Half of humanity, mostly chosen by non-transferable lottery, are moved into underground cities; the remaining billions dying in the cataclysms resulting from stopping the Earth's rotation and thrusting the planet from its orbit, and later with the Earth's surface temperature dropping to colder than −70 °C (−94 °F) as the Earth moves further from the sun.

Seventeen years later, in 2075, Liu Peiqiang is set to return to Earth after the Chinese New Year. His son Liu Qi, now an adult, obtains fake IDs and stolen thermal suits from criminal gangs and "borrows" his grandfather's clearance pass to take his foster sister, Han Duoduo, to requisition a heavy transport vehicle to see the surface. Both are arrested at a nearby checkpoint and get jailed, meeting another prisoner, Tim. Han Zi'ang attempts to bribe an official for the release of his grandchildren, but is himself arrested. As Earth approaches its gravity assist around Jupiter, a spike in tidal force causes devastating earthquakes that disable many Earth Engines and sets the planet on a collision course with Jupiter.

The four escape the prison amidst the structural collapse of the city and attempt to make their way to another underground city inside Han Zi'ang's truck, but are requisitioned for an emergency mission led by Captain Wang Lei to transport a Lighter Core to restart an Earth Engine in Hangzhou. In the frozen ruins of Shanghai, they lose their vehicle while transporting the component up the ruins of the Shanghai Tower, where Han Zi'ang freezes to death. After a confrontation with the other rescue team members, Liu, Tim and Han Duoduo abandon the mission. The trio come upon a crashed cargo plane with an intact vehicle, where the surviving engineer aboard, Li Yiyi, eventually convinces them to transport another Lighter Core to repair the Earth Engine in Sulawesi, reconciling with the other members on the way.

Aboard the space station, Liu Peiqiang discovers that MOSS, the computer commanding the station, has decided to abandon Earth to destruction and repurpose the station as an interstellar ark to seed a new planet with Earth's biosphere. Liu breaks out of forced hibernation and attempts to reach the control room. He is joined by his good friend and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Makarov who was awakened by MOSS to stop Liu. While spacewalking, Makarov is killed by the spacecraft's automated security measures. Liu enters the control room, but his attempts of overriding the evacuation procedures are revoked due to insubordination. Liu Qi's group arrives at the Sulawesi Supply Depot to find that the engine was already fully restored along with most others around the planet. However, the combined thrust of the engines is no longer able to divert the trajectory, with Earth approaching Jupiter's Roche limit. Believing the end is inevitable, MOSS broadcasts a final message to the world, but Liu Peiqiang is reluctant to follow the computer's instructions.

Liu Qi proposes to ignite the mixture of Jupiter's hydrogen with Earth's oxygenated atmosphere, which would cause a shockwave that would knock Earth back into its regular path and away from Jupiter. Li Yiyi configures the Sulawesi engine to fire a plasma beam tall enough to ignite Jupiter, but the group is unable to push the firing pin and ignite the engine. Contacted by Duoduo, Liu Peiqiang is able to persuade the UEG to use its communication channels to call assistance for the party at Sulawesi, but MOSS reveals that the attempted solution was already proposed by Israeli scientists and has zero chance of success. Other rescue parties arrive and together manage to ignite multiple engines, but it falls short of being able to ignite the Jovian hydrogen. After disabling MOSS using a fire started with a bottle of vodka that Makarov smuggled on board, Liu Peiqiang flies the space station into the plasma jet, tearfully apologizing to his son for breaking his promise before sacrificing himself to ignite the mix of atmospheres. The subsequent explosion narrowly saves Earth from destruction.

Three years later, Qi, Duoduo, and Li YiYi work as truck operators, as Earth continues towards the Alpha Centauri star system.


  • Wu Jing as Liu Peiqiang (刘培强)
  • Qu Chuxiao as Liu Qi (刘启)
  • Li Guangjie as Captain Wang Lei (王磊)
  • Ng Man-tat as Han Zi'ang (韩子昂)
  • Zhao Jinmai as Han Duoduo (韩朵朵)
  • Arkady Sharogradsky as Makarov
  • Mike Sui as Tim
  • Qu Jingjing as Zhou Qian (周倩)
  • Zhang Yichi as Li Yiyi (李一一)
  • Yang Haoyu as He Lianke (何连科)
  • Li Hongchen as Zhang Xiaoqiang (张小强)
  • Yang Yi as Yang Jie (杨捷)
  • Jiang Zhigang as Zhao Zhigang (赵志刚)
  • Zhang Huan as Huang Ming (黄明)
  • Lei Jiayin as Yi Ge



"China's film market cannot always be filled with European and American science fiction films. Filling the gap is a gamble, but China cannot remain absent."

——Producer of the film The Wandering Earth and then Chairman of China Film Co., Ltd. [La Peikang],China Film Journal,15 February 2019[8]

In 2012, China Film Group bought the rights to three of Liu Cixin's best-known science fiction novels, The Wandering Earth, Supernova Era and The Micro-Age.[9] The plan to turn The Wandering Earth into a film was first announced at China Film Group's 2014 film project promotion conference, which estimated the production cost would be $50 million.[10] In the middle of 2015, China Film Production Branch found Frant Gwo, to discuss the cooperation intention. Gwo replied that he was particularly interested in making science fiction films, but Supernova Era and The Micro-Age were technically more demanding and set in a more distant time, Frant Gwo chose The Wandering Earth. He thinks the technical extension of "The Wandering Earth" makes it easy to empathize with viewers.[11] Frant Gwo was a big fan of the science fiction genre and was first influenced by James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day which inspired him to become a director in the genre. He spent the following years studying the genre to direct a science fiction film.[12] In the middle of July 2016, The Wandering Earth was officially approved in the script filing of National Radio and Television Administration,[13][14] and confirmed by Frant Gwo to direct.[15]


In the pre-production stage, Frant Gwo first considered the center of gravity of the movie and the relationship with the original. Considering that "[from] the novel we can choose different perspectives, such as Liu Cixin often chooses God's perspective, the perspective of the universe, the timeline is very grand, crossing thousands of years. But the movie is hard to express this, If the movie spends two hours to express the detailed world view, it will become a scientific film." He believed that the film could only take the novel story as the background, and must focus on the characters and emotions of the story. Based on this, the crew began to consider which part of the original book would be more suitable for the film background. For this Frant Gwo emphasizes that for "the presentation of the movie needs, you must find a comparison that makes the audience feel very interesting, or can have a visual impact." In the end he decided to use Jupiter's accelerating gravity to precipitate the Earth into crisis, and for humans to use solidarity and wisdom to protect it as the setting, and to completely adapt the story, which is only about five paragraphs in the original book. Jupiter was chosen precisely for its visual impact: Earth is huge for humans, but becomes very small and fragile when compared with Jupiter, which is more than 1,300 times larger.[11]

After confirming Jupiter's background the crew began to consider a world view, which was the most difficult part of Kuo Fan's preparatory work. The whole world outlook of the set took about eight months, from the social aspect of politics, economics, culture, education, entertainment, and food production, to natural levels of physical environment change in the Earth, how to escape the sun, the cast, and the relationship between all of these relevant aspects. In order to establish a rigorous setting, Gwo invited 4 scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to act as consultants.[16]

The crew also chronicled one hundred years of history, including the big events since 2017, to connect the real world and the movie world.[11]

The film's 3,000 concept maps and more than 8,000 sub-mirrors were created by a conceptual art team of 300 people over a period of 15 months.[17][16]

In 2017 Beijing Culture partnered with the project to complete the film, together with China Film Group as the main producer of the film.[18] The Wandering Earth is the first film that is based on a novel written by Liu Cixin.[19]


Spacesuit used in the film

Principal photography started on 26 May 2017, in Qingdao, a seaside city on north China's Shandong province,[20] and wrapped on 27 September 2017.[21] Weta Workshop made the film's spacesuits, exoskeletons and weaponry.[22][23]

Wu Jing was asked by Frant Gwo to play a cameo role in the film, but was later cast in a leading role. When he was told that the production had run into financial trouble, he gave up his remuneration and invested in the film to help it continue, for which he was given special thanks in the credits of the film.[24][25] Due to the financial difficulties, there was a limited remuneration budget, and the salary for the lead actor Qu Chuxiao was around 100,000 yuan (US$15,000).[26]


The visual effects of the film were made by Base FX, Bottleship VFX, Dexter Studios, Macrograph, More VFX, Pixomondo and Black Nomad.[citation needed]

Liu Cixin, the author of the original novella, said to China Central Television, "Chinese studios have no interest to invest in sci-fi films. US sci-fi film audiences have trust but this trust between audiences and China's sci-fi movies doesn't exist yet and this is the main difference between Chinese and US sci-fi films...It is a challenge because this trust must build between producers, investors, and the audience until people have faith in a Chinese sci-fi movie."[27]


The film's music was composed by Roc Chen (阿鯤),[28] and Liu Tao (刘韬) as an additional composer.[29] The film's music was performed by the British Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Roc Chen at the Abbey Road Studios.


On 25 December 2018, the first official trailer for the film was released at the China Aerospace Museum in Beijing along with a teaser poster.[30]

On 30 January 2019, Beijing-based distributor China Media Capital (CMC Pictures) announced that it has secured the international rights and is planning a sizable North American release on 8 February. The company will open the film in 22 cities in the U.S. and 3 in Canada, throughout Australia and New Zealand.[31] The movie released in U.S. theaters with IMAX 3D during the first week.

On 20 February 2019, it was announced that Netflix acquired the distribution rights to stream the film internationally. The film was expected to be available to stream globally on Netflix, outside of China, on 30 April 2019,[32][33] however the film was later promoted on the Netflix Facebook page as being released on 6 May 2019.[6]


Box office[edit]

The Wandering Earth released over the Chinese New Year holiday season, and earned more than CN¥2 billion (£232 million) in 6 days, setting a new record for a Chinese film.[27][34] It also set the record for the highest-grossing Chinese film on IMAX.[35] Second weekend box office dropped 53%, on par with all other currently playing films post Chinese holiday season, as expected.[36] The film's total gross in China stands at CN¥4.655 billion.[37]

On release, it topped the worldwide box office with a 3-day opening weekend gross of $172,718,000, and had a 6-day opening gross of $289,090,290.[38] The film has grossed $693,371,204 in China, $5,875,487 in North America, and $1,575,366 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $699,992,512.[2][3]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 71% based on 38 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "The Wandering Earth's story won't win many points for originality, but this sci-fi epic earns its thrills with exciting set pieces and dazzling special effects."[39] On Metacritic the film has an average score of 57/100 based on reviews from 8 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[40]

The film received a generally positive reception in China. Several state-run media publications have given the film a positive review.[41][42] Zhong Sheng in the People's Daily writes that the film is "not superheroes saving the world but mankind changing their destiny together."[42]

Tasha Robinson of The Verge describes the film as "rich, gorgeous, and goofy".[43] Travis Johnson, of gave the film 4/5 stars and, whilst criticizing the film for its lack of character development, praised the visuals and called it the best science fiction film of 2019.[44] Ben Kenigsberg in The New York Times wrote that the film is "as awash in murky computer imagery, stupefying exposition and manipulative sentimentality as the average Hollywood tentpole", but that it proved that the Chinese film industry "can hold its own at the multiplex."[45] Simon Abrams of gave the film 3.5/4 stars, saying that the experience was "visually dynamic, emotionally engaging".[46]

Zhuoyi Wang, an associate professor at Hamilton College, lauded the film's attempt in presenting a unifying view of humanity that imagines humans from diverse backgrounds coming together to save the earth from a disaster. In contrast, the film's Hollywood counterparts often feature a group of individuals from a single country or a single social class. Despite its attempted departure from the exclusionist individualism prevalent in Hollywood, The Wandering Earth has nevertheless received support from Chinese state media for nationalist reasons, leading many to dismiss it as an instrument of Chinese propaganda or a Hollywood clone.[47]

On Douban, during the initial release, the movie had a 8.5 rating; then suddenly fell to 7.9 as of the early morning of February 23 in China. It was claimed some reviewers were offered money for posting negative reviews on the rating platform. Douban banned nearly 50 users for violating guidelines and thousands of comments were removed.[48] The rating finally stabilized at 7.9. Some commenters, specifically on Douban, who gave the film negative reviews were accused to be in bad faith or trolling,[48][49] but the accusations are disputed.[50]


Li Guangjie won the Golden Angel for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the 15th Chinese American Film Festival in Los Angeles.[51]

The film won the Golden Rooster Award for Best Picture and Best Sound for 2019.[52] It also won the Golden Oak Award for Best Film in New York City.[53]


A prequel, The Wandering Earth 2, starring Andy Lau was announced for 2023 and began production in October 2021.[54] The film was released on 22 January 2023.[7]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ a b "The Wandering Earth (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b "The Wandering Earth (2019) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
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  5. ^ Chilton, Louis (2019-02-21). "Netflix buys streaming rights to world's second highest-grossing film of 2019 so far". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2022-06-20. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  6. ^ a b "The Wandering Earth. Netflix". Facebook. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  7. ^ a b Hassenger, Jesse (2023-01-21). "The Wandering Earth II takes a sci-fi blockbuster in a dark direction". Polygon. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  8. ^ "Weibo of China Film Journal". 2019-02-15. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  9. ^ "《流浪地球》到底花了多少钱拍成? 专访中影喇培康:拍摄确实超支但在合理范围". 时光网 (in Simplified Chinese). 2019-02-18. Archived from the original on 2020-01-22. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  10. ^ "刘慈欣又有三部科幻将拍大电影 最高投资近4亿 现身演讲:"不跟《星际穿越》比"". 时光网 (in Simplified Chinese). 2014-11-21. Archived from the original on 2018-11-03. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  11. ^ a b c 戴天文 (2019-02-03). "【专访】《流浪地球》导演郭帆:我们的科幻片还是小学生,一片蛮荒有待耕耘". 界面新闻 (in Simplified Chinese). Archived from the original on 2019-02-07. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
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  13. ^ "国家新闻出版广电总局电影局关于2016年07月(中旬)全国电影剧本(梗概)备案、立项公示的通知". 国家新闻出版广电总局 (in Simplified Chinese). 2016-08-05. Archived from the original on 2018-11-03. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
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  16. ^ a b "刘慈欣又一科幻神作将搬上银幕 《流浪地球》青岛开机 《同桌的你》导演执导". Mtime (in Simplified Chinese). 2017-05-31. Archived from the original on 2018-11-03. Retrieved 2019-01-19.
  17. ^ ""做科幻电影不仅仅是没有钱这么简单" 《流浪地球》曝科幻特辑 揭秘筹拍四年幕后". Mtime (in Simplified Chinese). 2018-11-14. Archived from the original on 2018-11-14. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  18. ^ "中影股份董事长喇培康:拍《流浪地球》是场冒险,更是责任". 微博 (in Simplified Chinese). 2019-02-15. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  19. ^ 戴天文 (2019-02-03). "【专访】《流浪地球》导演郭帆:我们的科幻片还是小学生,一片蛮荒有待耕耘". 界面新闻 (in Simplified Chinese). Archived from the original on 2019-02-07. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  20. ^ "刘慈欣又一科幻神作将搬上银幕 《流浪地球》青岛开机 《同桌的你》导演执导". Mtime (in Simplified Chinese). 2017-05-31. Archived from the original on 2018-11-03. Retrieved 2019-01-19.
  21. ^ 巴塞电影 (2017-09-28). "两部重头戏同一天杀青,明年国产片要有大动静". Sohu (in Simplified Chinese). Retrieved 2019-01-19.
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  25. ^ "Jacky Wu Strikes Gold Again With The Wandering Earth". Drama Panda. 2019-02-08. Retrieved 2019-03-12.
  26. ^ "《流浪地球》主演片酬曝光,男主屈楚萧10万,女主赵今麦仅5万". Tencent. 2019-02-24. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
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  28. ^ Credits of The Wandering Earth. Retrieved 2019-03-03
  29. ^ The Wandering Earth (2019), retrieved 2019-03-05
  30. ^ "国产科幻《流浪地球》曝预告定档大年初一吴京"成了是英雄死了是烈士" 作者刘慈欣站台". Mtime (in Simplified Chinese). 2018-10-25. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
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External links[edit]