Fan-Favorite Denzel Washington Movie Remade in China Becomes Box Office Hit

A fan-favorite Denzel Washington movie has been remade in China and is now a box office hit. The Chinese film Fireflies in the Sun opened at no. 1 with a $54.2 million box office this past weekend; it so happens that Fireflies in the Sun is actually an adaptation of Nick Cassavetes' 2002 film John Q. Washington stars as John Quincy Archibald, a father who goes to extreme lengths to get his son an expensive heart transplant procedure. John Q. was savaged by critics (23% on Rotten Tomatoes) and only made $102.2 million in its theatrical run; however, the film was embraced by audiences and went on to be a cult-hit favorite in Denzel Washington's career. 

At the time of its release, John Q. was largely criticized for being a cut-and-dry, if not a politically-biased commentary on America's health care system and its costs. Ironically, in the time since the early 2000s, that subject matter that Cassavetes addressed in John Q. has gone on to become a mainstream focal point of American politics, and society in general – especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 


According to Variety, the head-on bluntness of John Q.'s social commentary is what made it an attractive target for adaptation by Wanda Pictures. Issues with China's own health care system apparently made fertile ground for such commentary to be explored through film. Fireflies in the Sun is described as "the story of Lin Rilang, a father and husband whose son is diagnosed with an enlarged heart and gives all his efforts to collect money for his son's operation." 

Weirdly enough, Fireflies in the Sun is also described as a sequel to a 2019 Chinese film called Sheep Without a Shepherd, even though there is no apparent connection between the films. Sheep Without a Shepherd tells the story of a father who leads his family to cover up the accidental death of a powerful figure who was exploiting one of the man's daughters. 

You can find the synopsis for the 2002 John Q. below. It is streaming through Starz channels and apps. 

John Quincy Archibald's son Michael collapses while playing baseball as a result of heart failure. John rushes Michael to a hospital emergency room where he is informed that Michael's only hope is a transplant. Unfortunately, John's insurance won't cover his son's transplant. Out of options, John Q. takes the emergency room staff and patients hostage until hospital doctors agree to do the transplant.