Blockbuster Sci-Fi “Shanghai Fortress” Bombs the Box Office with Low Reviews

Shanghai Fortress <上海堡垒> was meant to be China’s next mega sci-fi production following the uber success of this year’s The Wandering Earth <流浪地球>, which grossed over 4.66 billion yuan in the box office and one of the most critically successful movies of the year.

But Shanghai Fortress is a different story.

Starring pop idol Lu Han (鹿晗), award-winning actress Shu Qi (舒淇), and Taiwanese Canadian actor Godfrey Gao (高以翔), Shanghai Fortress is based on the book of the same name, which is about Shanghai being the last human stronghold against an alien race that is bent on invading Earth.

The film was produced with a budget of 400 million yuan, with an additional 70 million yuan in marketing. It premiered nation-wide on August 9.

But not only did Shanghai Fortress gross a disappointing 74 million yuan on the first day of release, it also accrued a myriad of negative reviews by critics and moviegoers alike, and was given only a 3.3 star on Douban, China’s number one film and TV reviewing site.

The ratings dropped lower and lower as the days went by, with over 60% of reviewers giving it only a one star rating.

Shanghai Fortress managed to scrape past 100 million yuan after three days of release, a slow progress compared to other cinematic blockbusters like The Wandering Earth and the popular animation Ne Zha <哪吒之魔童降世>.

A netizen, who was a huge fan of the original novel, voiced out his disappointment in the film. He shared that the novel was a part of his life for ten years, and he had always dreamed of a film adaptation. He shared that he rather not see Shanghai Fortress even being made. “They should have killed this film when it was still in production.”

More netizens are telling Shanghai Fortress to apologize to The Wandering Earth, calling it “an embarrassment.” Film critics went on to say that Shanghai Fortress had singlehandedly sunk the ship that is Chinese sci-fi, a genre which was brought to sail by The Wandering Earth.

The producers of Shanghai Fortress are noticeably upset. The film’s official Weibo posted a series of disappointed message, asking netizens if they really found the film to be that bad. These messages have since been deleted, and replaced with an apology.

The apology statement also mentioned the possibility that certain netizens and critics are being paid to criticize the film. An official investigation will be opened.

Meanwhile, the animation Ne Zha grossed 3.4 billion yuan after 17 days of release. The Hong Kong action crime film Line Walker 2: Invisible Spy <使徒行者2︰諜影行動> grossed 400 million yuan after 5 days of release in China.


This article is written by Addy for

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  1. Didnt watch it and will not watch it after seeing that Luhan is the lead. Can someone tell that guy that he cant act? He is like a male version of ABB. Only possessing “good looks” without much talent. For me, even his looks arent that good. Too feminine

  2. “The apology statement also mentioned the possibility that certain netizens and critics are being paid to criticize the film. An official investigation will be opened. “

    This is the first time I hear a producer out and out claims that critics are paid to criticise his film.
    He should just accept that his film failed to connect with audience and do a postmortem on it instead of putting the blame on conspiracy and sabotage.

    1. @kidd

      It’s a fact that critics have been paid to criticize films/dramas/actors. Overzealous fan-atics have also been known to mount campaigns against actors/actresses they consider a threat to their own idols. This also happens in S. Korea and in HK during the 70s.

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