China's The Wandering Earth franchise just released a new look at the third installment in its growing sci-fi tentpole.
The first film, released in 2019, was s Chinese science fiction film directed by Frant Gwo that was partially based on Liu Cixin's award-winning 2000 short story of the same name about a daring expedition to relocate Earth out of its orbit and into interstellar space, in order to escape a dying sun.
The first film is set in a distant future, where the Sun has transformed into a red giant, threatening to devour Earth. Scientists offer a daring solution to save humanity: deploy hundreds of Jupiter engines to drive Earth out of the Solar System and into a new star system 4.2 light-years away. The journey will take 2,500 years, and humanity will confront numerous challenges along the way, including political upheaval, resource scarcity, and unanticipated perils. The film went on to gross $700 million worldwide at the global box office.
A sequel was released in 2023, aptly titled The Wandering Earth 2, it was set 30 years after the events of the previous film and follows a new generation of heroes as they strive to preserve the world from a new menace, the Digital Life Project (DLP). The DLP is a radical organization that believes digital immortality is a more viable option for humanity's survival than setting the planet afloat in space. The DLP wreaks havoc with protests and terrorist attacks to stop the Moving Mountain Project. The sequel was also a critical and economic success, grossing $500 million worldwide, and it is regarded as one of the year's top science fiction films.
Now a third installment is on the way, but it will be a long wait. The Wandering Earth 3 currently has a February 6, 2027 release date. Previously, director Gwo stated that he needs a minimum of 4 years between films to produce a proper sequel, which begins with his analysis of the previous installment.
"I will need six months after the release to do a large-scale research, and also review the weaknesses of the previous film," Gwo previously stated.
A synopsis for the third installment reads, "The Wandering Earth 3" will center around humanity's response to the impending destruction of the sun. In an effort to find a new home in a different solar system, colossal thrusters are constructed on the Earth's surface. These thrusters aim to move the entire planet into deep space for a journey that is fraught with crises. To save the planet, the young people of the Wandering Earth era step up for the third time, embarking on a life-and-death battle as they race against time."
In a press conference promoting the release of the third film, Liu Cixin, the author of the novel joked, "In the first one, you blew up Jupiter, in the second one, you blew up the moon. What planet are you going to blow up in the third one?"