Known as China’s first space movie, The Wandering Earth had a smashing 4.5 billion (US$669 million) in box office revenue in mainland China but suffered a devastating flop in Hong Kong. The opening day box office revenue was only HK$320,000 (US$40,000). For the showing at 9:50 pm in a Broadway Cinema in Mong Kok, only 7 out of a total of 300 seats were sold. A Radio France Internationale article reported that, in order to improve the poor box office performance, some Hong Kong patriotic organizations and individuals launched a “rescue the Earth” campaign. Some schools, such as the New Territories School Head Association, even gave out free tickets saying it was “in the name of the upcoming 70th anniversary.”
According to the Radio France Internationale article, the official party media Global Times even reported the poor box office performance of The Wandering Earth in Hong Kong but attributed the cause to the economic gap and cultural differences between Hong Kong and the mainland. In the article that Radio France Internationale published, it reported that the Global Times seems to have forgotten the fact that, among movies made in Hong Kong in 2018, the top box hit was a low budget movie called Agent Mr. Chan, which took in revenue of 44.7 million Hong Kong dollars (US$5.69 million). As for the movie that achieved the highest box office revenue in Hong Kong last year, it was Hollywood’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” which had a box office revenue exceeding 150 million Hong Kong dollars (US$19.11 million). Another mainland movie, “Red Sea Action” had director Lin Chaoxian, who was from Hong Kong, but its box office revenue was only 8.7 million Hong Kong dollars (US$1.1 million), which was a lot lower than the mainland box office of 3.65 billion yuan (US$465 million). Therefore, it argues that citing poor economic performance in Hong Kong as the reason for the low box office performance of The Wandering Earth seems to be a bit untenable.
Source: Radio France Internationale, March 9, 2019