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‘Wandering Earth’ Sci-Fi Film Earns $300 Million Chinese New Year Victory

‘Wandering Earth’ Sci-fi Film Earns $300
Courtesy of Jingxi Culture and Media

China’s first large-scale sci-fi film, “Wandering Earth” came to dominate the box office over the Chinese New Year holidays – though it started from behind.

Over the full six days of the holiday, the picture earned $304 million. Some $187 million of that came over the Friday-Sunday period, making “Wandering Earth” far and away the top scoring film worldwide over the weekend.

In comparison, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” earned $38.2 million in six international territories. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” topped the North American charts with $34.4 million.

Eight locally-made films opened in Middle Kingdom cinemas on Tuesday (Feb. 5), the first day of Chinese New Year. The initial leader was Ning Hao-directed comedy “Crazy Alien” with $60 million (RMB405 million,) according to data from tracking service, China Box Office. “Wandering Earth” placed only fourth with $27.8 million (RMB188,) behind “Pegasus” and “New King of Comedy.”

The following day, “Crazy Alien” kept the lead, but with a score diminished to $42.3 million (RMB284 million). “Wandering Earth” increased its score, to $38.2 million (RMB257 million).

On Thursday, “Wandering Earth” snatched first place and did not relinquish it. Its daily scores improved in each session until Saturday, when it took $61.6 million.

Giant screen operator, Imax played three Chinese films on its 604 commercial screens in the Middle Kingdom, and adjusted its schedules over the period as audience preferences became easier to read.

“Imax’s record performance during this year’s Chinese New Year is proof that demand for Imax’s premium entertainment experience is alive and well in China,” said Rich Gelfond, CEO, Imax, in an emailed statement. “’Wandering Earth’ is the first blockbuster sci-fi film to be made in China. As China makes more high quality, blockbuster content, we believe audiences will continue to seek out the Imax experience.”

Over the full six-day period, “Crazy Alien” scored $215 million for second place. “Pegasus,” directed by celebrity blogger and race driver Han Han, earned $156 million.

“New King of Comedy,” a remake of Stephen Chow 1989 title, fell well short of the RMB1 billion ($148 million) milestone that these days marks a blockbuster in China. It earned only $78.6 million (RMB531 million) for fourth place, ahead of animation franchise title “Boonie Bears: Blast Into the Past” which earned $69 million (RMB466 million).

Jackie Chan-starring “Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang” faded quickly, as “Wandering Earth” prevailed. “Knight” earned only $19.1 million ($129 million) over six days. Still, that was marginally better than much hyped animation “Peppa Pig,” which despite being timed for the new Chinese Year of the Pig, earned only $16.6 million (RMB112 million).

“Integrity” brought up the rear, earning $14.1 million (RMB95 million) over six days. No Hollywood titles received new releases during the period and none broke through to figure in the chart.