Thursday, June 20, 2013

Transformers 4 China Shoot Starts in October, 70k Compete for Reality Show

Tuesday it was announced that an agreement was made to shoot near Beijing Olympic landmark along with the Pangu Plaza Hotel. Now is reporting that it seems those locations are not going to have good times in the film as several Beijing landmarks might get blown up in the movie. This includes the Pangu Hotel with "scenes shot at the hotel will show aliens fighting. The Pangu itself will be shown blowing up in the film." The article goes on the say the filming of those scenes is expected to begin in October.

Speaking of China, the Transformers 4 Chinese Actor Talent Search reality show continues to seek its four actors with 70,000 initially competing for the role in the first round. According to the LA Times, the four roles are "action guy", "tech geek", "sexy goddess" and "cute girl". Initial reports had been the goal was to cast two amateurs and two professionals (one male, one female in each category) but with role titles like this, starting to wonder if that has changed to simply finding four winners regardless of professional background. After an initial round of online voting in China the 70,000 contestants have been whittled down 2,400. Online voting will continue to take that number down to 400. From there the number will be chipped out through auditions until the finalist round which will be televised over six weeks, resulting in the final four winners. However, Li Bingbing and these four are not the only Chinese actors in the film.

"There will be one version, the version Michael Bay wants the world to see," [show producer Sid] Ganis said. "The American version will be the version that is shown here in China, a single version. There is a meaningful China story line in the movie that involves quite a few Chinese actors and actresses. There’s a number of six floating around out there, six Chinese actors and actresses. Actually it’s quite a few more than that."

Since this is a producer talking and at the end of the day they are basically equivalent to used car salesmen, I would really like to learn specifics on what a "meaningful China story line" means. For comparison, is it something equal or greater than Shanghai, China (filmed in Bethlehem, PA) experienced in the opening of Revenge of the Fallen? The sequence was great with Prime parachuting out of the plain and what not but I wouldn't define it as "meaningful" nor any of the speaking roles used in the sequence (except Tyrese and Duhamel of course). Maybe closer to the cameo of Paris, France when hit by Decepticons in Dark of the Moon? This isn't to bash China, I don't care about what locations are used as long as they service the story (not just shoehorned in poorly), its just that the more read Sid Ganis in interviews, the more alarm bells seem to go off in my head.

As for why all this China talk, the article points out that China "allows only 34 major foreign film releases into its cinemas per year." So it isn't just about growing box office dollars, it is also about making sure they even get a chance to make those dollars. Considering Hollywood releases hundreds of films a year, the competition for those 34 slots is tight. That is without even counting Bollywood and other countries' movies which really takes the number to the thousands. This rule is why China is no longer the bad guy (North Korea digitally swapped for China in Red Dawn) or any negative reference of China is scrubbed from a script (World War Z which changed outbreak source from China to India). With these agreements, Transformers 4 is assured one of those 34 slots. Now the goal is to get a release date near June 27, 2014 as the China date remains undecided. Its almost a form of diplomacy through business. The game being played is strange to behold and kind of sad too.

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