'The Wandering Earth' sequel needs years to develop

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, November 21, 2019
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Filmmakers share their insights and experiences at the Commencement Forum: The Chinese Dream of Film Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China, a major event of the 28th China Golden Rooster & Hundred Flowers Film Festival, held in Xiamen, Fujian province, Nov. 19, 2019. [Photo/ VCG]

The director of Chinese phenomenal sci-fi film "The Wandering Earth" revealed his team would have to spend years in developing a sequel, while other filmmakers reflected on Chinese films and the market at a forum held on Tuesday during the ongoing China Golden Rooster & Hundred Flowers Film Festival.

Frant Gwo said he and his team are currently focusing on developing a storyline and surveying audience reactions; however, fans need to have patience as the team will spend three or four years working on a script, building up the world view of the franchise and establishing conceptual designs, before shooting the film in one year. He vowed to make a sequel with more emotional expression and more polished and delicate visual effects.

"I think my first installment of 'The Wandering Earth' was just above the cut-off score in terms of quality when compared with all the great science fiction classics," Gwo said, hoping he could do a sequel worth a 70/100 score in the future.

Gwo discussed the project at the Commencement Forum: The Chinese Dream of Film Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China, a major event of the 28th China Golden Rooster & Hundred Flowers Film Festival. 

"The Wandering Earth," based on a story by award-winning Chinese sci-fi writer Liu Cixin, received rave reviews and took in 4.65 billion yuan ($690 million), becoming the third-highest grossing Chinese film of all time since its debut last February.

However, it was dethroned from box office champion of 2019 by a phenomenal animated feature "Ne Zha," which earned 4.97 billion yuan ($703 million) and became the second-highest grossing Chinese film of all time in China's domestic market since its debut in July.

But its producer, Wang Changtian, president of Beijing Enlight Media, said at the forum that this was "unexpected" and he hadn't even wanted it to soar this high. "Our goal was to see it surpass the former highest-grossing Chinese animated film 'Monkey King: The Hero is Back' (956 million yuan), but it shocked us to gross nearly 5 billion yuan. Frankly speaking, I didn't want this."

He elaborated, "the much healthier situation should be that we could have five films each grossing beyond a billion yuan, rather than just one film grossing 5 billion. This indicates the Chinese market is still unbalanced and there aren't enough good films."

Wang believed the success of "Ne Zha" was because it resonated with current social values, as well as with young people who had worries and uncertainties about their future and needed some inspiration about the fate awaiting them, "'Ne Zha' gives them what they want."

The top executive added Chinese filmmakers needed to seek more innovations in the creative process, while the industry should train more talents and expand market channels and space. "I previously said China needed 300 mature directors, but now this is still not enough -- we only have about 100. Chinese film enterprises need to support more new directors and their films," he said, while adding: "we have responsibility to take our films to overseas to promote Chinese culture. We need to explore more markets, and there is much work to be done."

Song Ge, chairman of Beijing Culture and film executive who produced the highest grossing film of all time "Wolf Warriors 2," pointed out at the forum that recent triumphs show Chinese film market has great potential. He revealed their heavily-invested "Fengshen" Trilogy, based on China's ancient fantasy classic "The Investiture of the Gods," will set new standards for the Chinese film industry, with each installment reaching Chinese theaters in 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively. 

Fu Ruoqing, chairman of Huaxia Film and directors Li Shaohong and Xue Xiaolu also shared insights at the forum about their successful film projects to celebrate the PRC's 70th Anniversary, such as "My People, My Country" and "A City Called Macao."

The 28th China Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival, opened on Tuesday and runs until Nov. 23, when the Golden Rooster Awards will be presented. The organizing committee has announced at the opening ceremony that these awards would be presented in Xiamen every year, helping promote the city as a filmmaking hub. 

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