by Xinhua writer Liu Xinyu
BEIJING, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- As China's first domestic sci-fi blockbuster "The Wandering Earth" impresses global moviegoers, Hugo Award winner Liu Cixin and renowned Canadian filmmaker James Cameron predict a brighter future for China's sci-fi film industry.
Liu, China's leading sci-fi writer and executive producer of "The Wandering Earth," said Monday during an interview in Beijing that the movie, which premiered on this year's Spring Festival, had achieved "great success" at the domestic box office, marking "a good start for China's homemade sci-fi movies."
Based on Liu's novella of the same name, "The Wandering Earth" presents the story of an epic project to move the Earth and its 3.5 billion residents to a remote star system in the near future because the sun is dying and about to swallow the Earth.
The movie has created a sci-fi craze across China with its eye-popping visuals and bold imagination.
It had raked in more than 3.9 billion yuan (about 576 million U.S. dollars) in China as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the second highest in China's box office history, according to Maoyan, a professional box office tracker.
The movie also broke Chinese films' five-year box office record in the North American market, the movie's official account on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, said Sunday.
"Science fiction is really taking the central stage in China. Let's just see more of them," said James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of sci-fi classics such as "Avatar," "Aliens," and "The Terminator," during the same interview.
He was in China to promote his new film "Alita: Battle Angel," which is set to hit Chinese theaters on Feb. 22.
Cameron attributed the success of China's latest sci-fi blockbuster to the country's growing visual effects industry.
"The state-of-the-art visual effects [industry] in China has been evolving over time and is now mature to compete with global products. That makes the Chinese cinema ready to accomplish anything that could be imagined," he said.
All the props and scenes in "The Wandering Earth" were made and built by Chinese crew members, and 75 percent of special effects were produced by Chinese companies, according to Guo Fan, director of the movie.
Cameron added that the growing popularity of sci-fi movies in China arose from the "zeitgeist of China," as technology is contributing to the "economic might" of the country.
He was echoed by Liu who said China's domestically-produced sci-fi movies emerged amid "a strong sense of future in the rapidly modernizing country."
Public enthusiasm for sci-fi has been ignited in China as the country has witnessed a technological boom in the past few years and has launched a spate of ambitious space programs including having its own space station operational by 2022.
"Maybe it's just the right film at the right time. It captured the wave," Cameron said. "Hopefully that wave will create the next wave, and hopefully it's just the start of a movement."
Calling himself "an enormous fan" of Liu's works, Cameron also expressed the wish to see Liu's award-winning trilogy of "The Three-Body Problem" adapted for the big screen.
The three-part saga, much greater in scale than the "The Wandering Earth," portrays centuries-long clashes between earthlings and aliens.
Noting the notable progress made by China's film industry in its production process in recent years, Liu said the adaptation of the trilogy might still be too difficult for China's sci-fi filmmakers.
"China's sci-fi movie industry still lacks a mature industrial system, compared with its American counterpart," Liu said, adding that the country is also in need of good sci-fi authors and screenwriters as well as high-quality original sci-fi works.
"We are off to a good start, but we stil have a long way to go," he said.