Thursday, April 28, 2016

Transformers 5 Heading To the Czech Republic?

The website is reporting that Transformers 5 may film in the Czech Republic. While unnamed, supposedly producers for the film were seen location scouting. The country provides a 20% tax rebate so the idea isn't as absurd as you might think considering London's 25% tax rebate and transferring a Detroit tax rebate is a primary reason those two cities were chosen for film production. This comes with usual grain of salt warning, emphasized by the out of nowhere made up title the site gives for the film as "Transformers 5: Rise of Unicron". Don't get excited. That will never be the title even if Unicron were in the film (he isn't). Using that name in the title is only fan service and does nothing to sell the film for the many movie goers that would simply go "who? what? huh?". (via TFW005)

Transformers 4 Wulong Karst Lawsuit Moves Forward

It took nearly two years from the initial filing but the Wulong Karst Tourism lawsuit against Paramount Pictures for Transformers: Age of Extinction is finally moving forward to be heard in a Chongqing city court. The Wulong Karst is the cannon and forest area that was used to introduce the Autobots in the film. For a fee of $750,000, the tourism company is saying Paramount agreed to show the logo "China Wulong" in the film for Chinese audiences to see. The logo was missing from the finished film. Paramount admits to the mistake but said they had Michael Bay shoot an advertisement and leave sets and props for the company to use. For failing to add the logo to the film, the tourist company is seeking $27 million. If this was an American court then the fear of an unpredictable jury would lead to both sides wanting to reach a settlement but I don't know how these things are decided in China. It is probably safe to assume that Wulong Karst Tourism has a very strong home field advantage and so little incentive to settle.

Ultimately this strikes me as American companies failing to understand their business partners. Product placement advertisements in most eastern countries are like advertisements use to be done in the 1950s to 1970s in America. Then that meant the show, host, actors, etc. would essentially stop, look to camera and advertise whatever the product was. It was in your face and impossible to miss. That style is alive and well in China and elsewhere and completely counter to how America does it currently (believe it or not). By those standards the logo "China Wulong" might seem subtle and small but what has not been indicated is how big and potentially distracting the logo may or may not have been and the on screen duration that was expected (pop up like a location identifier or stay on screen for entire scenes that were filmed in the Wulong Karst location?) In the end though it sounds like they made an agreement without really understanding what they were agreeing to and now may pay for it.

Michael Bay likes to revisit past locations for Transformers films but this time there has been zero indications of production returning to China. I can't help but wonder if this, an on set extortion attempt and no telling what else that didn't make it to the press might have influenced a decision to avoid filming there for Transformers 5 despite the financial boost Paramount enjoyed the last time.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Jerrod Carmichael Joining Transformers 5?

A new casting rumor for Transformers 5 which is expected to start principle photography some time in June. The Wrap is reporting that Jerrod Carmichael (Neighbors, The Carmichael Show) may join the cast of the movie. Paramount has not confirmed or denied the rumor. No other information on the role itself or the size of the role. As of right now the only real confirmed casting information we have is that Mark Wahlberg and Peter Cullen are returning.

Writer's Room Members for Hasbro Cinematic Universe Revealed

Hasbro has announced the members of its Hasbro Cinematic Universe Writer's Room that they hope will kick off a slate of non-Transformers movies based on their properties. The list is impressive with a diverse writing style group with backgrounds in movies, TV, and comic books. The goal is to create story ideas for a unified universe of movies for G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Visionaries, M.A.S.K. and ROM toy lines.

Akiva Goldsman - oversee the room (A Beautiful Mind)
Brian K. Vaughn (Ex Machina, Y: The Last Man [how is this not a TV series?], Saga, Under the Dome)
Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Spider-Man 2)
Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel)
Lindsey Beer (Kingkiller Chronicle)
Cheo Coker (Luke Cage)
John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Joe Robert Cole (People vs OJ Simpson, Black Panther)
Jeff Pinkner (Fringe, The Dark Tower)
Nicole Riegel (Dogfight)
Geneva Robertson (Tomb Raider)

You may have noticed that this room has a higher female component then is normal for..well any Hollywood project really. That is because while these properties have traditionally been aimed at boys, Hasbro is hoping to avoid doing that this time around. “Female empowerment is a central theme through a lot of these properties and one of the reasons we wanted diverse voices,” [said Hasbro CCO Stephen Davis].

Clearly Akiva Goldsman took his Transformers experience and learned from it. The dozen writers blow what was assembled for the Transformers Writers Room out of the water. Brian K. Vaughn's writing history alone is responsible for most of the boom but still. This group has a very strong emphasis on imagination with most of the writers previously displaying a strong sense of story structure and character development. By contrast the TF writer's room had a very strong emphasis on spectacle with a dash of story structure and character development skill. Sounds overly critical and unimportant but that reverse and incorrect emphasis is how you get something like Batman v Superman. To put it more bluntly, spectacle is easy. Story and character is hard. This group makes the hard stuff look easy. Considering the properties they are tackling have languished for nearly 30 years (and often for good reason), it is going to be interesting to see what comes from their ideas over the next few years. The first meeting of the group will occur on Monday.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Screenshots, Story Hint for Machinima's Combiner Wars Web Series

While it is still months out from its July release, Machinima teased a little bit of their upcoming Transformers: Combiner Wars web series along with a screenshot of Cybertron.
Lastly but not leastly is passion platform Transformers, which you undoubtedly recognise if you were ever a child. There’s 10bn views of Transformers content on YouTube, not to mention four theatrical films, which saw $3.7bn in global revenues.

Machinima’s contribution to the canon, Transformers Combiner Wars, is 40 years removed from previous events. It’s a time of peace. Cybertron is ruled by a triumvirate … but an ancient technology has emerged, enabling a new threat to take the stage. As in the case of Robocops, there is no trailer we can share for this, but it was worked on by “some of the world’s leading creative minds”: Eric Calderon, FJ Desanto, and George Krstic. It is directed by Kenji Nakamura. License partners are welcome.

Here is some glorious artwork. This is the planet Cybertron, in which you get a sense of the film-like cinematography (“This is not a children’s cartoon!” exclaimed Gutstein).
No context was provided to determine what "previous events" are being referred to (the movies? comics? one of the cartoon series?) so can't tell if they mean 40 years before or 40 years after said events. Hopefully will get the context as the promotion of the series kicks up probably sometime in June or July.

IDW July 2016 Transformers Comics

IDW Publishing has released their publishing plans for July 2016. Four floppies and two trades are coming that month. This month will conclude the All Hail Optimus and Dying of the Light storylines and the series moves into Titan Returns story arc that will run in advance of the planned fall release of the next wave of Titan Master centric toy line (the catch-all name for weapon masters, power masters, headmaster, etc.). For the full details of IDW's other books including GI Joe, Star Trek, and more click here.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Transformers 5 Scouting Begins at Stonehenge

In a new post on his Instragram account, Michael Bay writes "Scouting, it begins" with an image of him in front of Stonehenge. Production will be filming in London, England so few scenes in front of the famous historical artifact wouldn't be much a stretch. Or it could just be Bay taking a tourist moment. As always time will tell. (via TFW2005)

Frank Welker To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award from Daytime Emmys

Congratulations to Frank Welker as he is being honored by The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his decades long voice work. While Transformers fans consider him the definitive voice of Megatron, he list of work is very long. Below is the press release about the honor.
New York, NY – April 12, 2016 – The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) today announced that Frank Welker, legendary performer of the voices of Scooby-Doo and many others will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 43rd Annual Daytime Creative Arts Emmy® Awards on Friday, April 29th, 2016 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites in downtown Los Angeles.

“Every child in America has grown up listening to Frank Welker bring the adventures of Freddy Jones and Scooby-Doo to life,” said Bob Mauro, President, NATAS. “Frank is an audible magician. He has made an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of us all with his ability to bring these and so many other characters into our lives and make them real. It is with great pleasure that the National Academy bestows the prestigious Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement to him for his great body of work.”

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Nickelodeon's Isabela Moner Rumored to Star In Transformers 5

Nickelodeon star Isabela Moner is rumored to be in running as the lead female character in Transformers 5 according to The Wrap. The 14 year old actress had performed on multiple Nick TV programs including "Dora and Friends: Into the City" and "100 Things To Do Before High School". The role is described as "Izabella, a street-smart tomboy who grew up an orphan and was raised in foster care. She counts a small Transformer as her only friend… until she meets Wahlberg’s heroic inventor Cade Yeager." There has been zero talk of Nicola Peltz returning as Cade's daughter. Without her character, it probably seemed pointless to try to add the now very busy Jack Reynor (Shane) into the film.

Considering Bay likes to sex things up with the ladies in his films, the potential underage casting is a bit strange but maybe its a directive from Hasbro whose Transformers toy line does not do well with girls and has been dropping in sales volume for the last few years among teens and pre-teens. As is typical of Hollywood and high level corporate execs, the solution is just throw children into the film of the proper demographic. While it rarely works in reality, on paper its comes across as a good solution. I don't have a problem with the idea of a 14 year old being a major cast member of the film as long as the story treats her as her age. By that I mean doesn't treat her as 18 (yuck) or use youth/inexperience to kick off an overall pointless action beat or move plot to next story point because "kids are stupid" type thinking. Neither does shoehorning an underage character into an otherwise adult character work out well. Also bit surprised this rumor even exists considering child labor laws kick in which would strictly limit how much Bay could film with the actress each day. As always, nothing confirmed officially so usual grain of salt warnings.
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