×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Shanghai: Roland Emmerich, Frant Gwo on China’s Sci-fi Prospects

Iconic Chinese and Hollywood directors Frant Gwo and Roland Emmerich did not take the stage together at the Shanghai International Film Festival, but on Monday they got the chance to praise each other’s movies and share insights into sci-fi.

“I totally understand why it did well,” said “Independence Day” director Emmerich of Gwo’s recent “Wandering Earth,” a film which earned more than $680 million at the Chinese box office and has launched a wave of interest in Chinese sci-fi projects.

“It has lots of effects. It is good quality. And it is very Chinese, in that it is the story of a group of people, not just about a single person,” said Emmerich speaking at a panel discussion about sci-fi and technology.

Earlier, at a panel on industrializing the Chinese industry, Gwo thanked Chinese audiences for being tolerant of the “many things wrong” with “Wandering Earth. He said that he had spent a great effort on elements that convince viewers that his fictional universe could be real. “It is a question of trust,” he said.

At the two sessions Chinese film makers discussed the perceived technological and story-telling gaps between Chinese sci-fi and Hollywood’s. Gwo and Teng Huatou, screenwriter and executive producer of the upcoming “Shanghai Fortress,” estimated that Chinese film makers may be 30 years behind.

Those guesses seem like gross over-estimates if Chinese film makers continue to pour money into the genre and adopt more efficient production techniques. Teng said that on “Fortress” a Chinese supervisor is wrangling shots from seven international effects providers.

Gwo concurred with “Tomb Raider” director Simon West, on the need for standardization of production elements such as scripts. Gwo said that now that “Wandering Earth” is no longer in theaters, he has engaged research firm FANIC to conduct a study of what audiences liked and disliked about the movie. In addition to story elements, he wants feedback on details such as which props and costumes were appreciated.

Oscar-winning British visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin (“Inception”) was on hand to give tips about models, digital effects, and story-telling through image and design.

Like West, who explained the massive amounts of pre-production that Hollywood movies undergo before shooting, Franklin explained the process of preparation that allows industrial scale effects work. “On ‘Venom’ our team expanded from 20 people on set, to 1,500 in post-production,” he said.

Emmerich briefly discussed “Midway” his upcoming big-budget war action film which has a significant financial investment from China’s Bona Film Group. “It was very expensive for an independent movie,” he said. “But ‘Midway’ was a special situation, because U.S. and Chinese (military forces) were allied on the same side, against the Japanese.”

Emmerich played down the perceived gap between China and Hollywood. “There are sci-fi stories that will appeal equally to Chinese, German and American. They will become more global and less Hollywood.”

“Chinese must not lose identity as it reaches out to the world,” said Franklin. “Watching ‘Wandering Earth’ taught me things about modern China that I didn’t know. It gave me a viewpoint on modern China, and its history.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Global Screen Nabs ‘Amazing Maurice,’ Based

    Global Screen Picks Up ‘The Amazing Maurice,’ Based on Terry Pratchett’s Novel (EXCLUSIVE)

    Global Screen has picked up worldwide distribution rights, excluding North America, the U.K. and German-speaking territories, to the English-language animated feature “The Amazing Maurice,” based on a Terry Pratchett novel. The screenplay has been written by Terry Rossio, Oscar-nominated for “Shrek.” Rossio’s credits also include the animated movie “Aladdin” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” [...]

  • Yoji Yamada-directed film is to open

    Tokyo Market: Shochiku Launches Horror, Comedy and Mystery Lineup

    Major Japanese studio, Shochiku has the honor of leading off next week’s Tokyo International Film Festival with its “Tora-san, Wish You Were Here.” The film is a revival of a beloved in-house drama franchise, directed by veteran Yoji Yamada, that is set as the event’s opening night gala presentation. Before that, the company has the [...]

  • The Truth

    Singapore Festival to Focus on Asian Excellence for 30th Edition

    For its 30th edition the Singapore International Film Festival has avoided programming novelty and instead focused on assembling excellence – mostly indie titles — from Asia and further afield. The festival, which previously announced local filmmaker Anthony Chen’s second feature “Wet Season” as its opening night gala presentation, announced the balance of its programming on [...]

  • Isabela Moner Dora the Explorer

    Film News Roundup: Isabela Merced Boards Jason Momoa's 'Sweet Girl' for Netflix

    In today’s film news roundup, Isabela Merced get cast opposite Jason Momoa, “Starbright” gets financing and AFM announces its speakers. CASTING Isabela Merced, formerly Isabela Moner, has come on board to portray the daughter of Jason Momoa in his upcoming revenge thriller “Sweet Girl” for Netflix. Momoa will play a devastated man who vows to [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Seeks to Throw Out Gender Pay Gap Lawsuit

    The Walt Disney Co. is seeking to throw out a lawsuit alleging that women employees are paid less than men, arguing that the suit is too sprawling and unwieldy to handle as a class action. Andrus Anderson LLP filed the suit in April, alleging that Disney’s hiring and pay practices have a discriminatory effect on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content