Paramount Pictures has been hit with a $27.7 million (180 million yuan) lawsuit in China over a product placement that was allegedly omitted from Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Wulong Karst Tourism, a state-backed travel company, argued Tuesday in local court that Paramount Pictures and China Movie Channel, the Chinese co-producer of Transformers 4, failed to fulfill their obligations as part of a product placement deal signed in 2013, according to Chongqing Morning Post.
The case was accepted by a court in Chongqing city in 2014 and is now finally being heard.
Wulong Karst Tourism runs a resort in China's southern Wulong county, an area famous for its eroded limestone cliffs, a magnificent landscape known as "karst." Portions of Age of Extinction were shot in Wulong Karst National Park, and the tour company says its deal with Paramount was for a logo, featuring the Chinese characters “China Wulong,” to be displayed in the finished film, so Chinese audiences would know where the film was shot. The company says it paid nearly $750,000 (4.8 million yuan) before production began in exchange for the promotion.
According to local press, the defendants — Paramount and China Movie Channel — conceded that the logo didn't make it into the finished film, but said they took pains to make up for it. Michael Bay is said to have shot a short advertisement for the resort, and the Transformers production team left sets and props on the resort property, which Wulong Karst Tourism could leverage as a tourist attraction.
The Chongqing court has yet to deliver a verdict.
The Transformers 4 shoot in greater China was not without other incident. During a day of shooting in Hong Kong in 2013, Bay was attacked by two local thugs who had tried to extort the shoot for "protection money" and been rebuffed. One of the assailants allegedly came after Bay using a piece of an air conditioner as a weapon. The director managed to escape unscathed, and the attackers were subdued by security and arrested.
Transformers 4 was a tremendous hit in China, grossing $320 million.
After successfully launching his own NBC sitcom “The Carmichael Show,” comedian Jerrod Carmichael is in talks to join Mark Wahlberg in Paramount’s “Transformers 5,” multiple individuals familiar with the project have told TheWrap.
Hasbro’s cinematic universe has assembled its writers room, with a Pulitzer Prize winner, an Eisner-winning comic book author and Marvel Studios scribes among those who will be clacking the keyboard.
Michael Chabon, who wrote the novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and worked on Spider-Man 2; Brian K. Vaughan, the creator of seminal comic works Y: The Last Man and Saga and showrunner of Under the Dome; and Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel co-writer Nicole Perlman, will help develop a plan for the creation of an interconnected onscreen universe featuring Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Visionaries, M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) and ROM brands.
Also in the group are:
► Lindsey Beer, who was just hired to adapt Kingkiller Chronicle for Lionsgate
► Cheo Coker, showrunner of Marvel’s Netflix show Luke Cage
► John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the comedy writing team who penned Spider-Man: Homecoming
► Joe Robert Cole (a writer on People vs. OJ Simpson who is also writing Black Panther for Marvel)
► Jeff Pinkner, who wrote the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower)
► Nicole Riegel (writer behind the Blacklist script Dogfight)
► Geneva Robertson (one of the writers of new Tomb Raider movie project).
Akiva Goldsman, who won an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, will oversee the writers room on behalf of Hasbro and Paramount as well as serving as executive producer for all of the films. He is already serving in a similar capacity for Hasbro’s Transformers writers room and the new session is meant to build on its successful fruits and established road map.
Scouting, it begins
Up-and-coming actress Isabela Moner is being eyed for a lead role opposite Mark Wahlberg in Paramount’s “Transformers 5”, an individual familiar with the project has told TheWrap.
Paramount did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Michael Bay is returning to direct the action-packed sequel, which boasts the involvement of executive producer Steven Spielberg as well as a litany of writers including Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman.
Moner is poised to play the young female lead of Izabella, a street-smart tomboy who grew up an orphan and was raised in foster care. She counts a small Transformer as her only friend… until she meets Wahlberg’s heroic inventor Cade Yeager.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Don Murphy and Tom DeSanto will produce “Transformers 5” with Hasbro, and Paramount will release the film on June 23, 2017. Production is slated to start this summer in Detroit.
As you can see in the video, Kirkman says that he loves Transformers, and became a part of the writing team after a casual lunch wth di Bonaventura, who optioned his comic Invincible (the comic adaption list that Perri mentions in the video is Dave Trumbore’s 10 Comic Books That Need an R-Rated Adaptation). Still, though he’s no longer a part of the project (which is a bummer because it seems insane and his involvement made it seem somehow less so), he says,
“I have heard from the people that are in that room there are a lot of amazing Transformers things coming, and I’m very happy as a fan to see what comes from that.”
Transformers 5, directed by Michael Bay and starring Mark Wahlberg and Peter Cullen, is expected to film in part at the Michigan Motion Picture Studios in Pontiac beginning this summer, along with several other locations across the state.
“They have filmed several Transformers productions (at the Michigan Motion Picture Studios) in the past, and I expect they would utilize some of the same locations,” says Jenell Leonard, commissioner of the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office, formerly the Michigan Film Office. “However, all production locations are tentative and fluid.”
Leonard says the film’s production will use Paramount Pictures’ last planned Michigan tax credit funds. She says even though the film tax incentive was cut last July, the state must honor existing deals with studios, like a multi-project agreement with Paramount.
She says Paramount offered to return half of a $42 million planned tax credit that was allotted for multiple films to the state. Doing so allowed the studio to allocate the other $21 million exclusively to Transformers 5.
“Paramount came to the table and said if they could apply half of their encumbered incentive dollars to Transformers, they would be willing to give the other half of the $21 million dollars back to the state,” Leonard says.
Michigan’s film tax credit program took the form of reimbursements awarded after filming was complete.
Leonard expects that production on Transformers 5 will start in the summer and will end in the fall. Transformers 5 will be the fourth film in the series shot in Michigan, joining the original 2007 film as well as Transformers: Dark of the Moon and last year’s Age of Extinction. In Age of Extinction, Paramount created a set in downtown Detroit on the site of the former Statler Hotel that was designed to look like Hong Kong.
Studios must prove they are spending their dollars in Michigan and hiring Michiganders in an independent audit conducted before filming, and be in regular communications with the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office.
Studios are required to hire Michigan residents and out-of-towners at a 1:1 ratio. Leonard says the Transformers 5 shoot will create around 228 full-time job equivalents.
“Studios submit a line-item budget with how many hires they would have and submit the script for review,“ Leonard says. “We base the incentive they would be eligible for off that application process.”
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