The Wandering Earth 2 set for 2023

The sequel to Chinese sci-fi epic "The Wandering Earth" is scheduled to hit Chinese theaters in time for Spring Festival 2023, as officially announced by the project's director on Thursday in Xiamen, Fujian Province during the Golden Rooster Awards.



Actor Xiao Yang, director Rao Xiaozhi, singer and actor Andy Lau, director Frant Gwo, and producer Zhang Ning come together on stage for a group photo at a ceremony to promote "The Wandering Earth" franchise in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Nov. 26, 2020. [Photo/VCG]


Frant Gwo will return to direct "The Wandering Earth 2," which is based on a novel by Hugo Award-winning sci-fi author Liu Cixin, who will also be executive producer on the sequel. The films are set in the future and tell of an audacious attempt by mankind to save the Earth from the sun, which is on the verge of turning into a red giant that will devour the planet.

"Our new script has basically been conceived and we will start to try a new production process, using new types of technology," Gwo said. Producer Gong Ge'er added that they have been preparing for the sequel and its new sci-fi fantasy world for a while, and are excited for the audience to enjoy the story's continuation and explore new details. 

The announcement came after the premiere of a new director's cut of "The Wandering Earth." The re-release, which debuted in Chinese theaters on Thursday, is an extended version of the original and includes 11 minutes of new content.

"The Wandering Earth," released on Feb. 5, 2019, raked in more than 4.68 billion yuan ($713 million) at the Chinese box office and is the biggest grossing sci-fi film ever in China as well as the third highest-grossing Chinese film of all time.

Widely hailed as a landmark sci-fi feature, the movie has greatly enhanced passion for the genre among both audiences and the film industry and has since its release in 2019 prompted anticipation of seeing more such domestic sci-fi productions. Following its great market success, the critically acclaimed film won numerous awards, including best director at the Hundred Flowers Awards.

Wang Zhonglei, CEO of Huayi Brothers Media, said at the premiere: "Film is a century-old art form. Everyone talks about innovation, but in fact, there is no innovative film genre -- science fiction is of course also not an innovative film genre. But director Frant Gwo gave new charm to science fiction with emotions that we Chinese can better understand."

The re-release of the original is titled "The Wandering Earth: Beyond 2020 Special Edition" with tickets priced at 15 yuan or less and all proceeds from the distribution going towards supporting China's film industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.



A concept poster of "The Wandering Earth 2." [Photo courtesy of China Film Co.]



The ceremony also had a surprise: director Rao Xiaozhi, Hong Kong-based superstar Andy Lau, as well as actor Xiao Yang from the film "Endgame," a dark, action-comedy set for a 2021 Spring Festival release, joined Frant Gwo onstage in Xiamen on Thursday. 

Rao is a close friend of Gwo's and had a cameo appearance in "The Wandering Earth," while Lau was an avid supporter of "The Wandering Earth." Producers of "The Wandering Earth 2" had invited Lau to join the cast and while there's no official announcement yet, Lau's surprise appearance may hint that he will have a more significant role in the sequel. 

Chinese action star Wu Jing, who starred in the original "The Wandering Earth" may also be involved in the sequel as he recorded a video message that played at the event in Xiamen, congratulating Gwo on the re-release and cheekily asked the director whether his character, who died in the first installment, would be able to return for the sequel.

Concluding the event, Fu Ruoqing, vice president and CEO of China Film Co., Ltd. and chairman of Huaxia Film Distribution Co., Ltd., said, "'The Wandering Earth 2' is what we've always been longing for," adding that China Film Co. will again collaborate with Gwo for the sequel, and will explore processes in management and standardization for the project.