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Netflix Buys Chinese Sci-Fi Hit ‘The Wandering Earth’

Netflix has bought rights to “The Wandering Earth,“ the smash hit film pitched as China’s first mainstream sci-fi movie.

The movie was the sleeper hit of Chinese New Year. It opened in fourth position on Feb. 5 but climbed to the top spot and has not yet relinquished it. After 14 days in theaters, the epic has raked in about RMB4.07 billion ($603 million) and likely has weeks of its theatrical run left to go.

Adapted from a 2000 novella of the same name by the godfather of Chinese sci-fi, Liu Cixin, the film tells the story of people working together to save the planet from our aged, imploding sun by moving it with giant thrusters to another solar system.

Netflix operates globally, but not in China, where local regulations have barred its entry. It was able to license some of its content in the Middle Kingdom through an arrangement with local streaming service iQIYI, but that deal has expired. Netflix is also slowly ramping up its roster of Mandarin-language content through production of original series and through acquisitions.

Netflix gave no date for releasing “The Wandering Earth” on its platform.

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

The film is directed and written by Frant Gwo. It features a cast including Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjie, Ng Man-tat and Zhao Jinmai, with a special appearance by Wu Jing.

“The movie is a majestic feast for the eyes with massive production scale rarely seen in Mandarin films,” Netflix said. “Its post-production 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.”

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