Columbia Filmmakers Work on New Global Sci-Fi Epic, ‘The Wandering Earth II’

Angeline Dimambro
February 28, 2023

Several Columbia filmmakers reunited to work on The Wandering Earth II (dir. Frant Gwo, 2023)–the highly anticipated prequel and follow-up to the 2019 sci-fi epic, The Wandering Earth (dir. Frant Gwo, 2019), which is the the fifth highest-grossing non-English film of all time. The incredible blockbuster arrived in North American theaters on January 22, 2023.

In The Wandering Earth II a rapidly burning-out sun threatens to obliterate Earth. In order to survive, humans build enormous engines to propel the planet to a new solar system far out of reach of the sun’s fiery flares. However, the journey into the universe is complex, and humankind’s last shot at survival will depend on a group of young people brave enough to step up and execute a dangerous, life-or-death operation to save the Earth.

Still from 'The Wandering Earth II' courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment

Film alumna Ewing Luo ’18 served as Production Coordinator of the Oversea Units, in addition to her duties as writer of the world-building document, producer of the science consultant team, and first assistant director of the preparatory team. One of the highlights for Luo was the ability to fold in other Columbia filmmakers, making it a truly global endeavor.

Still from 'The Wandering Earth II' courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment

"Esteban Garcia Vernaza ’20 served as the Colombian Unit Director, and Erlendur Sveinsson ’18 and Kári Úlfsson ’20 as the Icelandic Unit Director and Producer respectively,” Luo said. “Both units produced great shots that added significant value to the section of the film that follows the ‘Lunar Fall Crisis’ set in 2058. Working together, we managed to build a remote-producing process thanks to modern technology. The shots captured through a camera on the sea of Iceland could be sent to China in real-time, enabling us to give feedback immediately.”

As noted by Luo, this kind of online-producing process is an especially great advantage for the current age of filmmaking, which, since the pandemic, has seen an increase in remote collaboration.

Numerous Columbia alumni were essential to the project, assisting with everything from location recommendations to local language expertise. Alumni who contributed to the film include: Markus Wulf ’20, Han Donggyun ’19, Minami Goto ’18, Chantel Clark ’18, Brúsi Ólason ’20, Fany de la Chica ’18, Layla Zhuqing Ji ’14, Yue Jiang ’20, Apoorva Charan ’18, Jenny Sciarra ’18, Layla Ji ’14, Delicia Kuang ’17, Riddhi Talreja ’19, Sush Khadepaun ’20, and Ashish Pant ’19. Ewing also shared special thanks to Professor Maureen Ryan, Associate Professor and Film Program Chair Jack Lechner, and Professor Ira Deutchman, for their support.

The Wandering Earth II is a huge project, and its global perspective is that of a true Columbia collaboration,” Luo said.

Watch the trailer for the film below and click here to buy tickets for a screening near you.