Co-produced by Paramount, China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises, Transformers 4 will be partly shot in China and is slated for an opening on June 27, 2014.
The show is set to commence broadcast in China in June 2013, with a panel of judges comprising Sid Ganis, the former head of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the current chairman of Jiaflix; the film’s producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura and casting director Denise Chamian; Paramount’s marketing and distribution chief Megan Colligan.
The film’s Chinese backers will be represented by Jia Qi, deputy director of the film’s Chinese co-producers China Movie Channel; and Liang Longfei, vice-president of m1905, the channel’s portal through which contestants (who need to be over 18) can register for the show.
Producers said the four winning contestants will join “a number of talented Chinese actors and actresses” in Transformers 4. The third film in the franchise, Dark of the Moon, generated $165 million in China, and stands fourth in the country’s overall box-office rankings behind Avatar, Lost in Thailand and Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons.
Michael Bay was whispering these words to himself, mantra style, and biting his fingers as he perched at his computer like a bird of prey. On the second floor of his office in Santa Monica, he was holding a videoconference with artists at Industrial Light and Magic, the special-effects company, and something was bothering him.
As Mr. Bay watched ILM’s preliminary animation for his latest “Transformers” movie, blocky images of giant robots trading blows in the middle of a city, his visceral reactions, often with variations on the word “cool” — “That’s pretty cool”; “We can do something cooler”; “Maybe you could get a nice slice through his face” — seemed to signal approval.
In his career, Mr. Bay has had plenty to work with. Through action films like “Bad Boys” and “The Rock,” his man-versus-asteroid thriller “Armageddon” and three installments of “Transformers,” based on the Hasbro toys, he has become synonymous with the bigness of Hollywood movies: big budgets, big box-office returns, and big, big differences of opinion about whether they’re any good. To the extent that Mr. Bay acknowledges his own reviews, he says he is not striving for any artistic credibility he has somehow been denied. But he recognizes that sheer bigness becomes confining — an obstacle to making movies as rapidly as he wishes.
“When they get too big, it becomes un-fun,” he said. “You just see the money leaking away.”
But when you are Michael Bay, what does it mean to work small?
There is not much modesty to the Bay Films office, housed in a brick building that was once an auto-body shop. Today it teems with artifacts from his “Transformers” films, which have sold nearly $2.7 billion in tickets worldwide.
On the first “Transformers,” Mr. Bay said, he was chided by Steven Spielberg for allowing actors to improvise too much.
“Steven said to me, ‘Michael, I would like you to shoot something that’s in the script,’ ” he recalled. “And I was like, ‘Steven, this is how I work.’ ” Even if 80 percent of what he shot was terrible, Mr. Bay said, “You’re going to get 20 percent that’s gold.”
Since then, Mr. Bay said, Mr. Spielberg has come to see things his way. “Steven’s like: ‘You’ve got to have the funny. That’s part of the brand of ‘Transformers.’ ” (A spokesman for Mr. Spielberg confirmed Mr. Bay’s account of events.)
While success has reinforced Mr. Bay’s confidence, those who have known him over the years suggest that a certain directorial flair and a determination to prove himself have always been there.
When, at the end of “Pain & Gain,” Mr. Bay offered him a lead role in the next series of “Transformers” movies, Mr. Wahlberg said he accepted without hesitation.
“He said, ‘Well, let me tell you about the part and the story,’ ” Mr. Wahlberg recalled. “I said, ‘Dude, if you want to. Or you could just tell me where to stand and what to say.’ ”
Now that he has done “Pain & Gain,” Mr. Bay is hardly contemplating a transition into independent cinema. He is producing his movies and television pilots and feels a special attachment to “Transformers,” in part because it keeps him in an exclusive club of directors who are associated with continuing film franchises.
“Jim” (Cameron, of course) “is doing ‘Avatar,’ and Peter” (Jackson, naturally) “has been in Middle-earth for a long time,” Mr. Bay said. “I don’t know how many I’m going to do, but I’ve got to set this franchise up again for somebody.”
Then there is the Mr. Bay who just likes to hike and play softball, watches “Homeland” and considers himself a frustrated landscaper, and wonders if he could walk away from the apparatus he has built himself, if only temporarily.
“I want to chill out for a little bit,” after the next “Transformers,” he said hesitantly. “I think. Smell the flowers a little bit.”
With some wistfulness, he added: “I wish I would read more. I used to be a huge reader. It’s just — life gets too busy.”
Over the last few years, IMAX has been quietly developing a smaller digital camera with amazing resolution. And while that would be great on its own…the new camera would also shoot in 3D! However, since no one had been talking about it recently, I figured IMAX was stuck trying to get the tech to work and it’d be years before we’d see it in action. I thought wrong. Tonight on the CinemaCon red carpet for Paramount’s presentation, Michael Bay told me he’s going to be shooting the big showcase scenes in Transformers 4 with the new, smaller IMAX 3D digital camera!
"One day he was just like, 'Hey, do you want to do another movie?' and I said yes," Wahlberg recalled to correspondent Josh Horowitz. "He goes, 'You wanna know what it is?' [I replied] 'Well if you want to tell me, but I want to do it." That film turned out to be "Transformers 4," a project that Wahlberg jumped at the chance without even knowing the role he would play. "[Michael Bay asked] 'Do you want to know what the part is or what the story is?' I go 'Whatever you want to tell me, tell me, but I'm in.' "
Bay's desire to return to the franchise, one he seemingly concluded with 2011's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," came while the director waited in line for the Transformers ride at Universal Studios. "I was like, 'Wow, a lot of people like this.' I wanted to do it one more time... but then I brought Mark in and he's actually harassing me to do more."
Chicago Sun Times wrote:Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago. He had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland.
Roger Ebert wrote:Now about those who sincerely believe "Transformers" is a good, even a great, film. I sincerely believe they are wrong. I don't consider them stupid--at least, not (most of) the ones who write to me. Some of the posters at certain popular web forums are nine blooms short of a bouquet. But on the other hand look at the spirited discussions on the movie forums of the all-Transformers-all-the time seibertron.com, where a Paramount exit poll showing "90% of those polled thought the second film was as good or better than the first one" has been received with ridicule. Significantly, those are moderated forums.
Paramount Pictures, China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises announced today that they have entered into a Cooperation Agreement regarding the production of “Transformers 4” in China. The Cooperation Agreement was signed on April 1, 2013 in Beijing and Los Angeles.
Pursuant to the agreement, China Movie Channel, under the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT), will cooperate with Paramount in broad-based support of the production of the film in China. “Transformers 4” is expected to be released in China on or about June 27, 2014. The parties also intend to cooperate in a number of other areas related to “Transformers 4,” including the selection of filming sites within China, theatrical promotion, and possible post-production activities in China as well as casting of Chinese actors and actresses in the film.
This agreement represents the first time that China Movie Channel will work with a western studio in the production of a major motion picture.
The unprecedented agreement followed a meeting with Mr. Tong Gang, Vice Minister of SARFT with the Transformers 4 production leaders including director Michael Bay, producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura and Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore, along with Jiaflix Chairman Sid Ganis and President Marc Ganis at SARFT’s official Reception Hall in Beijing. Minister Tong expressed support for the newly formed China Movie Channel/Jiaflix cooperation with Paramount.
The “Transformers” movies are among the most popular films ever released in China, and Michael Bay is among the most popular directors with Chinese audiences. Transformers 3, Dark of the Moon, released theatrically in 2011, grossed $165 million in China and over $1.1 billion worldwide.
“I’m proud and honored by how ‘Transformers’ has been embraced by Chinese audiences,” said Michael Bay. “I look forward to working with China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises to help reach more people here and deepen their passion for this ongoing story and its characters.”
“China Movie Channel and our official movie web site M1905.com have been long term trusted partners with Jiaflix,” said Yan Xiaoming, Chairman of China Movie Channel. “We have been working together in the field of importing Hollywood movies for Chinese television and internet, including Paramount movies, as well as introducing Chinese movies to the North American market and are very delighted with the results we have accomplished together.”
“This is the beginning of a new era of collaboration with the Hollywood studios,” Mr. Yan continued. “We are very confident that the China Movie Channel/Jiaflix cooperation with Paramount will result in the famous Transformers brand being an even bigger success.”
Jiaflix, through its partners, Sid Ganis, Marc Ganis and Kenneth Huang, was the driving force in bringing the new arrangement to fruition. Said Sid Ganis, Chairman of Jiaflix, “Paramount was the first major studio to officially join with us for the distribution of its films over the Jiaflix platform in China, so we are delighted to join our partners at China Movie Channel together with Paramount on this groundbreaking initiative. ‘Transformers 4’ are paving the way.” Jiaflix has recently entered into a long term agreement with Paramount, under which Paramount will supply more than 250 films a year to the new video streaming partnership between Jiaflix and M1905.com, a unit of China Movie Channel.
“We are excited by and grateful for the opportunity to work with China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises on the production and promotion of ‘Transformers 4,’” said Paramount Vice Chair Rob Moore. “We see this relationship as a reflection of the global power and appeal of both this unique franchise and Michael Bay’s talents as a filmmaker.”
Transformers 4, 5, & 6 will begin filming back to back starting June 2013.
More details to follow.
Once again, getting back to the evolution of the blockbuster movie franchise, one of the things that we are seeing a lot of right now, and it’s in great deal due to The Avengers and The Expendables is kind of the idea of both continuity explosion, like the idea of creating a larger universe and also just creating a team and I’m just curious, what’s your perspective on that personally and is it something you could see being part of future projects you’re working on?
In terms of Joe or just in...
Well, in terms of Joe, for example like G.I. Joe and Transformers both happen to be Hasbro, Paramount and you.
I guess it’s possible. I don’t know. I think I probably at this moment, I resist it. I don’t know necessarily why, but I just think there’s so much that’s so rich in the mythologies that I don’t think they need to draw from the other. I think, I didn’t rule it out for me and I think those things have somehow for me, sort of in the past, they made me feel like a little bit cynical exercises in just drawing money out of something. It’s not to say you couldn’t do it well, but both these properties have such rich mythologies with so many characters, that you could go a lot of movies before you start running out of ideas of what to do. But it’s not to say, if we found the right… I’d hate to set out to do that, but if I heard a story where we went, “Oh my God…,” I could see a story right now about machination, machination of war and that could lead you sort of intrinsically to a Transformer. I think in general, Marvel is doing it within their own universe, right? And so it doesn’t feel gimmicky in that way. I think that’s what I would really try to resist.
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