Thursday, April 28, 2016

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.

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