Last November I stated a few reasons for deals like this and the danger it puts in any crew sent to China. Suffice it to say that money and blackmail have a lot to do with it. It will also be interesting to see if Bay and the cast are willing to head over to China to film scenes or if that side will be a 2nd unit only production (so mostly supporting actors or non-actor specific scenes will be filmed there). I think the phrase "Cooperation Agreement" is pretty telling as I suspect it allows for a great deal of latitude on exactly how much Hollywood actually films in the country and what portions of the film use or are set in the country. At the end of the day the Chinese government's primary goal is to keep their propaganda machine going for their own citizens so if none of the main unit films there, I doubt they could care less as long as they are able to insert their own propaganda into the film as desired.
I think Transformers 4 will follow The Wolverine route with a special China only cut of Transformers 4 that will replace some American scenes and actors with China locations and stars. This isn't to say the main cast but minor roles or additional scenes featuring China talent. An example could be an action set piece that is identified as Detroit for the international release and Beijing for the China release. Extras could be doing heroic stuff in the background to sell the sense of disaster but for the China cut those actions would get close-ups, lines and so forth because cast with recognizable Chinese stars. Things like that where editing and blue screen would allow for relatively easy swaps with little story disruption. Any case it will be interesting to see how this news potentially impacts the story, casting, filming and final cuts of the film. Thanks to Wynton R. for the link.
Los Angeles, CA – April 2, 2013 – Paramount Pictures, China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises announced today that they have entered into a Cooperation Agreement regarding the production of “Transformers 4” in China. The Cooperation Agreement was signed on April 1, 2013 in Beijing and Los Angeles.
Pursuant to the agreement, China Movie Channel, under the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT), will cooperate with Paramount in broad-based support of the production of the film in China. “Transformers 4” is expected to be released in China on or about June 27, 2014. The parties also intend to cooperate in a number of other areas related to “Transformers 4,” including the selection of filming sites within China, theatrical promotion, and possible post-production activities in China as well as casting of Chinese actors and actresses in the film.
This agreement represents the first time that China Movie Channel will work with a western studio in the production of a major motion picture.
The unprecedented agreement followed a meeting with Mr. Tong Gang, Vice Minister of SARFT with the Transformers 4 production leaders including director Michael Bay, producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura and Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore, along with Jiaflix Chairman Sid Ganis and President Marc Ganis at SARFT’s official Reception Hall in Beijing. Minister Tong expressed support for the newly formed China Movie Channel/Jiaflix cooperation with Paramount.
The “Transformers” movies are among the most popular films ever released in China, and Michael Bay is among the most popular directors with Chinese audiences. Transformers 3, Dark of the Moon, released theatrically in 2011, grossed $165 million in China and over $1.1 billion worldwide.
“I’m proud and honored by how ‘Transformers’ has been embraced by Chinese audiences,” said Michael Bay. “I look forward to working with China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises to help reach more people here and deepen their passion for this ongoing story and its characters.”
“China Movie Channel and our official movie web site M1905.com have been long term trusted partners with Jiaflix,” said Yan Xiaoming, Chairman of China Movie Channel. “We have been working together in the field of importing Hollywood movies for Chinese television and internet, including Paramount movies, as well as introducing Chinese movies to the North American market and are very delighted with the results we have accomplished together.”
“This is the beginning of a new era of collaboration with the Hollywood studios,” Mr. Yan continued. “We are very confident that the China Movie Channel/Jiaflix cooperation with Paramount will result in the famous Transformers brand being an even bigger success.”
Jiaflix, through its partners, Sid Ganis, Marc Ganis and Kenneth Huang, was the driving force in bringing the new arrangement to fruition. Said Sid Ganis, Chairman of Jiaflix, “Paramount was the first major studio to officially join with us for the distribution of its films over the Jiaflix platform in China, so we are delighted to join our partners at China Movie Channel together with Paramount on this groundbreaking initiative. ‘Transformers 4’ are paving the way.” Jiaflix has recently entered into a long term agreement with Paramount, under which Paramount will supply more than 250 films a year to the new video streaming partnership between Jiaflix and M1905.com, a unit of China Movie Channel.
“We are excited by and grateful for the opportunity to work with China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises on the production and promotion of ‘Transformers 4,’” said Paramount Vice Chair Rob Moore. “We see this relationship as a reflection of the global power and appeal of both this unique franchise and Michael Bay’s talents as a filmmaker.”