SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Having waited in line at the box office of a movie theater in Union City, California, Charlie Yang finds his movie won't screen until Friday.
"It's rare that a Chinese movie is so popular here in the United States that tickets are sold out quickly," Yang, a resident of Union City and a Chinese semiconductor engineer in Silicon Valley, told Xinhua on Tuesday.
The movie he wanted to see is "The Wandering Earth," the first big-budget science fiction film of the Chinese movie industry that critics called "China's first sci-fi blockbuster."
Adapted from the same-title short story by famous Chinese sci-fi writer Liu Cixin, the film tells a story of moving Earth's residents to a remote star system and saving the human race against the backdrop of the imminent destruction of the sun.
"I've heard so many good words about the new film 'The Wandering Earth,' so my wife and I decided to see it ourselves," Yang said.
"I'm a big fan of sci-fi movies. I've read some reviews," said Yang, who has done some research on the short story and the film.
"Film reviewers say the movie is backed with sound scientific theories, that's why I'm interested," he said.
Yang noted that he first learned about the movie from WeChat, a Twitter-like popular social media among Chinese people.
Watchers' reviews and comments are circulating on WeChat and other social media platforms, which help fuel the popularity of this movie among the residents in the Chinese-concentrated Bay Area.
Since last week, the film has been screening at the theater "AMC Mercado 20" in Santa Clara, California. From morning till midnight, there are 11 showtimes at this theater.
More than 1400 tickets were sold for the noon showtime at the theater on Tuesday. It was almost sold out every showtime, said an employee who did not want to be identified by name. In the past week, "The Wandering Earth" has been the most popular movie at the theater, he said.
As the Chinese holiday movies drive up the box office revenues in China, they also help fill up seats quickly at the movie theaters in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In China, "The Wandering Earth" has raked in 4004 million U.S. dollars in its first six days. In the United States, it has earned more than 2 million dollars in the first six days since the limited release at 64 movie theaters on Feb. 5, according to Box Office Mojo, a website that tracks box office revenue.
On imdb.com, an online film database, the Chinese film has scored 7.9 out of 10, with more than 3,000 users rating it.
"The story is not everyday Hollywood style: Superhero saves the day; everyone else is there to give a round of applause. This movie brings a serious question to the audience: What are you gonna do facing an unavoidable, irresistible disaster to our civilization?" wrote a user under the name CJ_53589793 on IMDB.
While sci-fi movies may not appeal to everyone, some Chinese language comedies, like "Pegasus" and "Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year," are also running at some theaters in the Bay Area for family watchers.
Maggie Lin, whose office is close to the AMC theater in Santa Clara, bought a few tickets for her family during the lunch break.
The story of Pegasus, which has also received positive reviews, follows a former race car champion-turned-fried rice stall manager who decides to return to the track and challenge a new generation of drivers despite the road bumps along his journey.
"I like lighthearted and funny movies," said Lin, a Chinese descendant. "It's great that we can see the Chinese New Year movies simultaneously in the United States."
Last year, the Chinese holiday comedy "Chinatown Detective 2" earned nearly 2 million dollars in the United States, according to Box Office Mojo. "The Wandering Earth" is expected to get ahead of it.
"Not many Chinese movies get to screen here after all. We want to show our support," Lin said.