Brand China in leading role on Transformers set

Updated: 2013-11-09 02:13

By LIU WEI (China Daily)

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Brand China in leading role on <EM>Transformers</EM> set

Director Michael Bay attends a ceremony for the shooting of Transformers 4 in Chongqing on Oct 30. [Photo/] 

Product placement plays its part in Hollywood action blockbuster

More Chinese brands will feature in the new Transformers movie than in the three previous films in the franchise, a top executive at production company Paramount Pictures said.

Rob Moore, the vice-chairman, told China Daily the latest movie features a variety of Chinese brands placed in the storyline.

"This certainly goes hand in hand with the amount of time that we were in Chinese locations," Moore said.

"Having those products certainly reinforces the fact that this is Chinese culture and that there is a lot of story-telling happening there."

He would not say how many Chinese brands are in the film, but sources have confirmed that the products include drinking water, a car and a duck-meat snack.

Moore is aware that an improper placement could trigger controversy. Some Chinese audiences were offended by the placement of a brand of milk in the third Transformers movie, as that company was involved in a food safety scandal.

But Moore is confident that with cooperation from Chinese partners, including the Movie Channel affiliated to the State Film Bureau, the placements in the latest movie will not cause offense.

"Working with our Chinese partners really helps us to ensure we are giving an accurate picture of China," he said.

"The Chinese locations, actors and environment all look very natural and consistent with Chinese culture. As people start to learn more about China, and now that there is a lot more sharing of information, we will do much better."

In addition to product placement, there are many other Chinese elements in the action blockbuster, which will be released in the United States in June.

Director Michael Bay has used many Chinese locations for the movie, including the Great Wall, a luxury hotel in Beijing, the city of Tianjin, and Wulong in the southwest of the country, known for its mountains. He has also filmed on the bustling streets of Hong Kong.

Bay said the Hong Kong scenes will comprise one-third of the film’s length, while those in Wulong will last for two-and-a-half minutes.

The shooting in China was completed on Monday.

Another location outside the United States was used for the movie, but Moore is giving nothing away, saying only that it is a "very cold place".

The film also features a host of Chinese actors, with Bay saying that actress Li Bingbing, who starred in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, will appear in the movie for 30 minutes.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a 2011 historical drama movie based on the novel of the same name by Lisa See.

Some of the Chinese actors in the new Transformers film appear in supporting roles, including four newcomers to the industry selected from a reality TV show organized by the Movie Channel. Three female farmers played impromptu roles in the scenes shot in Wulong.

Despite the heavy involvement of Chinese elements in the film, it is not an official co-production, meaning it is not exempt from the country’s annual quota of 34 imported films, and its revenue share should be no more than 25 percent of the gross earnings.

The film is widely expected to be a box office hit. The previous Transformers movie, which was screened in China in 2011, earned 1.09 billion yuan ($179 million), making the country the highest-grossing overseas market for the film.

Moore thinks it is possible the new film may even equal the success of Pacific Rim, the 2013 US science fiction monster movie, which has grossed more in China than in North America.

"In terms of the popularity of this franchise and its expansion in the Chinese market, it is certainly possible," he said.

Asked if there will be a special version of the movie for Chinese audiences, as in the case of Iron Man 3, Bay said there will be only one version worldwide.