June 23, 2013

U.S. films building links to China

By JULIE MAKINEN, McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

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Ludi Lin is competing for the role of “action guy” in an online casting contest for “Transformers 4” – a contest that was held in China to help promote the film.

McClatchy Newspapers

In addition to the four contest winners, Chinese star Li Bingbing has been cast in the film. Ganis said "Transformers 4" will shoot scenes this fall in Beijing, Hong Kong and perhaps other Chinese cities. The producers said they plan significant product placement for Chinese brands, starting with a massive dragon-shaped hotel-apartment-and-mall complex called Pangu Plaza near the 2008 Beijing Olympics site. 

UNLIKE THE filmmakers behind "Iron Man 3," who released a China-only version with extra Chinese characters and footage, Ganis and others involved with "Transformers 4" say all of their Chinese elements will be seen worldwide.

"There will be one version, the version Michael Bay wants the world to see," 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," he added. "There's a number of six floating around out there, six Chinese actors and actresses. Actually it's quite a few more than that."

Given that China allows only 34 major foreign film releases into its cinemas per year, Hollywood studios are taking extreme care to ensure their movies are Sino-friendly.

In Paramount's new Brad Pitt starrer, "World War Z," for instance, a brief reference to China as the possible source of an outbreak that started the zombie apocalypse was changed to India, though it remains unclear if the film will land a release slot in China.

LeeAnne Stables, a Paramount executive in charge of marketing partnerships and brand integration, told Chinese reporters in Shanghai on Tuesday that the "Transformers" film was "a wonderful opportunity to bring the wonderful culture and the beauty of your country to theater audiences around the world," adding, "We're thrilled to be showcasing China within the film."

Lily Ji, 24, invited to appear at Tuesday's news conference as a representative contestant from the "sexy goddess" category, said she was thrilled that China's rising clout has opened up such Hollywood opportunities for performers like her.

"I don't care how much I would be paid," said Ji, who recently graduated from Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Arts, alma mater of Cate Blanchett and Mel Gibson. "It's just an opportunity to be a part of one of the greatest movies in the world. It's like opening a big door for me, for my future career as well." 

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