In Moonfall, Roland Emmerich’s latest sci-fi disaster film, a variety of Chinese elements, including the appearance of several conversations in Chinese, impressed Chinese viewers, not to mention its visual effects.
The conversations take place between an American boy and a Chinese exchange student, played by Kelly Yu who starred in the 2017 Chinese comedy The Ex-File: The Return of the Exes.
Opening March 25 in China, Moonfall tells how a team of heroes, including two veteran astronauts, attempt to save Earth from the collision of the moon, pushed by an unknown force.
Emmerich already has a solid reputation, built on blockbusters such as 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, a fact that drew crowds.
But the new film also caught the eye for its easily identifiable Chinese elements.
A movie buff surnamed Zhao was impressed with the re-entry capsule used by the team at the end of their mission. Many fans of Chinese manned space missions believe the capsule is “made in China”.
Such capsules have appeared in television programs showing the successful landing of Chinese astronauts returning to Earth after their missions in space.
“Chinese people are making their contribution in the face of a disaster. This not only demonstrates humanity’s solidarity, but also shows the country’s international status and influence,” Zhao said.
Chinese elements can also be seen in Emmerich’s 2012 disaster film, as well as in Transformers: Age of Extinction, directed by Michael Bay.
As its overall national strength increases, the influence of China’s science and technology output, as well as the Chinese language, has steadily grown, said Rao Shuguang, president of the Chinese Film Critics Association. .
Rao attributed the appearance of Chinese elements in Hollywood blockbusters in part to the size of the Chinese market.
In 2021, total box office receipts reached about 47.26 billion yuan ($7.4 billion) and the total number of screens reached 82,248, with the two categories remaining the largest in the world, according to the China Film Administration.
Ji Shaoting, founder of the Future Affairs Administration, a talent and sci-fi film incubator, said that with its theme of aerospace and lunar exploration, Moonfall can easily arouse the curiosity of Chinese audiences.
The film earned 100 million yuan at the Chinese mainland box office in 10 days and remained at the top of the charts for several days.
Rao, however, pointed out that most Hollywood films feature Chinese elements symbolically.
Many do not properly introduce the essence of Chinese culture, he said, adding that there is still room for improvement.
Market watchers have expressed hope that Hollywood will gain a better understanding of China and do a better job in cross-cultural communication to present Chinese elements more effectively.