James Cameron has done it again, with Avatar: The Way of Water becoming only the sixth film in history to reach $2 billion at the box office, making the director the only filmmaker to have three features cross that mythical barrier. And yet, it wasn’t even the biggest box office success story of the weekend, with The Wandering Earth II coming roaring out of the gate in China.
The first installment in the blockbuster sci-fi saga was a monster-sized hit back in 2019, hoovering up an incredible $700 million from theaters, before going on to enjoy a status as an international phenomenon after being added to the Netflix library in many international markets, where it drew in some stellar viewership figures.
Sensing that a franchise was on the cards, a second installment in the big budget cosmic saga was plunged into development, and The Wandering Earth II has repaid that faith in kind by debuting to $70 million. That’s not even through its first weekend, either, but merely opening day. Based on those numbers alone, it’s in with every chance of out-earning its predecessor.
China may be in the midst of lifting its ban on superhero stories, but if original in-house exclusives like The Wandering Earth II can keep bringing in such mountainous volumes of cash from the off, then perhaps the nation will be emboldened to keep playing Hollywood at its effects-driven game, instead of relying on overseas productions to try and drive up revenue as the theatrical industry drags itself out of the post-COVID slump.