In today's installment of Hollywood bowing down to the eastern superpower that is China, Paramount Pictures has now announced its plans to institute a Chinese reality show to cast a handful of local extras in "Transformers 4."
Uh huh. Evidently, reality TV is the main Chinese squeeze, and after the "Iron Man 3" effort to achieve "co-production status" revealed the nation wouldn't stand for mere lip service in doling out its
ticket fare distribution perks, Paramount decided to step up their game.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, the "Transformers 4 Chinese Actor Talent Search" was announced at a press conference in Beijing Thursday, and it'll place four winners — two of which should have prior acting experience — in the movie in various roles alongside "a number of talented Chinese actors and actresses." Portions of the film will also be shot in the area, and the show will air in June.
It's worth noting, of course, that China accounted for $165 million in international loot for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."
Sid Ganis, former Academy head and current chair of Jiaflix (a Chinese streaming start-up), said the collaboration will "give actors and fans of the 'Transformers' franchise the opportunity to be appearing in a major motion picture, and it will provide the world audience yet another glimpse of the Chinese people, the Chinese culture and China itself."
To be fair, the "Saw" people did the same thing with two seasons of "Scream Queens," but this move is definitely another nod to the viability of the Chinese market, which has become more and more of an issue for blockbusters franchise properties.
Even "The Avengers" helmer Joss Whedon admitted he'd "have to think about it" if he were asked to develop a portion for production in China. "China is on my radar," he told Entertainment Weekly. "It can't not be at this point." Meanwhile, "Oblivion" producer Barry Levine said of the country's 30 percent box office revenue rise last year, "China is on most producers’ minds all the time now ... It is a giant market if you can reach it. But you have to play it smartly."
Seems like Paramount's people put on their thinking caps for this one. What'll they come up with next?