TRANSFORMERS 4 to Cast Chinese Roles via Reality TV Show

James Marsh, Asian Editor

The producers of Michael Bay's upcoming Transformers 4 will launch a reality TV audition show to cast four Chinese wannabes in the film. Previous installments of the franchise have proved incredibly popular in mainland China (Dark of the Moon is currently No.4 in the country's all-time box office chart).

It was recently announced that Paramount Pictures' Transformers 4, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor, will be a co-production with Chinese companies Jiaflix Enterprizes and China Movie Channel, will be partly shot in China and include some exclusive Chinese content (as is the case with Marvel's imminent Iron Man 3). 

They are now taking the idea one step further by giving four lucky Chinese citizens (two with prior acting experience and two without) the chance to appear in the film. All they need to do is successfully negotiate the specially created television talent show, catchily entitled Transformers 4 Chinese Actor Talent Search.

Talent contests are among the most popular television shows in China, so this looks to be a fantastic way of generating interest and excitement for the film ahead of its 27 June 2014 opening. The show will start airing this June, with a panel of judges that includes Jiaflix Boss (and former AMPAS head) Sid Ganis, the film's producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura and casting director Denise Chamian, as well as Paramount's chief of marketing & distribution, Megan Colligan. From the Chinese side, China Movie Channel deputy director Jia Qi, and vice-president of online portal M1905, Liang Longfei, through which contestants can register.

That tantalizing judge line-up on its own makes me want to tune in to this show, as it could prove a hotbed of conflicting egos and compromised interests that has the potential to influence the film's production too. If they are smart about this, the producers should definitely consider screening a subtitled version of the show in Western markets. Not only is it likely to prove ferociously compelling viewing, but could serve as a genuinely insightful window into Chinese culture.

Around the Internet:
  • Summary: Dude, the Chinaman is not the issue here!

  • tok&o

    if china dosent want to be a villain thats fine but i'm absolutely sick of china's portrayal of westerners just look at the recent chinese zodiac

  • Leandro

    The rest of the world is sick of their portrayal in Hollywood movies.

  • tman418

    Are the Chinese trying to control our films? First they demand that the "Red Dawn" remake be changed so that the Chinese aren't the villains, and now this?!?!?!

  • Leandro

    Racism at its best.

  • Leandro

    Why "exclusive Chinese content"?

  • marshy00

    Why? To appeal to more Chinese viewers. This is also the case in IRON MAN 3 and was in LOOPER - mainland China gets scenes that won't be in any other version of the film. Why don't the rest of us get to see these scenes? Good question. But it's not "racism".

  • Leandro

    It's OK to want appeal to chinese viewers... But why making two versions? Perhaps american viewers doesn't want to see chinese actors? Are they racists?

  • marshy00

    That would imply that sequences are being "removed" for US audiences, whereas it is China-oriented sequences that are being "added" solely for the China release. Nothing is being done here to appease the US market. The entire world gets one version, China gets another.

  • Leandro

    But James.... this isn't the first time that Hollywood makes this kind of cultural bullying. Like adding Raymond Burr to the japanese Godzilla. Something smell fishy.

  • I love how people call capitalism bullying when the roles are reversed. The people who pay for it call the shots, it's that simple. You choose to take Chinese money - as they are here - and the Chinese get to call the shots. It's simple. It's how the market works and how the market always has worked. Welcome to the other side of the equation.

  • Leandro

    I don't called it "capitalism bullying" but "cultural bullying". It's not the same.

  • It's EXACTLY the same. America has dictated how SCORES of other countries are presented in the mass media for DECADES purely by virtue of having paid for the bulk of the films throughout that time. That's exactly what's happening now, except it's now China footing the bill and, therefore, getting to choose the slant put on themselves and others. The guy who writes the check gets to make the rules. It's always been that way, will always continue to be that way. Now it's just a different guy writing the check.

  • Leandro

    Lets say China paid to put "chinese content" in the movie and the Studio accepted the money. I have no problem with that. The thing that bothers me is making differents versions of a same movie. Lets do one with american and chinese content alike. But ONLY one.

  • As far as I know nobody's stopping the US release from using the longer Chinese version. Nobody's EVER stopped the US from using the longer Chinese versions in any of the cases where this has happened. They've just chosen not to. Not having seen the long version of Looper, say, I can't say why that is.

  • Leandro

    That's my problem. If not, make a version for Japan, another for France, another for Germany, another for christians, another for muslims, another for thin men, another for fat men, another for women, and so on.

  • International distributors make their own versions of films ALL THE TIME. It's a pretty standard practice. There's only 'bullying' happening if someone tries to force everyone else to adopt their version, which is the opposite of what's happening here. The Chinese are paying for it and opting to show a longer version in their own territory, with additional material geared to their specific audience. If the US wanted to show that additional material as well, they'd be welcome to. They choose not. There's no bullying happening, it's a freely made choice based on market economics.

  • Leandro

    Like choosing to destroy Red Cliff I & II into a complete mess. International distributors happen to be american companies. The other way around would be cutting Spider-man I, II & III, or any other Hollywood trilogy, into a 90 minutes movie. Maybe the end result would be better... without all the patriotism, the american flags, and bad jokes.

  • SOME international distributors are American companies, yes. But there are distinct French, German, UK, Australian, Canadian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Taiwanese, etc etc etc etc cuts of literally HUNDREDS of films. Clearly you've got a bug up your ass about the US. Fine. But you're being willfully blind to the way the industry works in the entire world so that you can try to create an argument based on personal dislike for one country rather than anything based in actual, objective fact.

  • Leandro

    It's my point of view. Not geografical but from artistic freedom. I know you defend remakes. I don't. It's common practice, but I don't have to be OK with it.

  • Retreating to "It's my point of view" is utterly meaningless when your point of view ignores actual facts in the real world. What you are arguing is factually not correct. Period. Or, at the very least, it takes in only the facts that you like and / or find useful in arguing your point while ignoring everything else. Your 'point of view' is completely obliterated by the blinders you're wearing.

  • Leandro

    But is true. It IS my point of view. As much as your statement is only YOUR point of view. We both are talking about hard facts -like US distributor destroying Godzilla and so many films or what that's "standard practice"-, we only differ in interpretation. And interpretations can't be refuted. I think it's bad, you think it's OK.

  • No, you are factually wrong about what's happening here. Completely, totally, 100% factually wrong. And you have been from the moment that you came in saying that the American studios were somehow being cultural imperialists and 'bullying' other people - the Chinese, in this case - on this project. That's 100% untrue and completely not what's happening. LOOK AT THE PROJECT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT. This is not Shaolin Soccer being repeatedly recut and having every scrap of Chinese digitally removed from the signage and tattoos. THAT'S cultural imperialism and totally deserving of every bit of criticism that was heaped on it when it happened. THIS IS THE TRANSFORMERS. It's already a studio project. They already had their cast nailed down. They already had the story nailed down. They already knew exactly what movie they wanted to make. All that's happened here is that some Chinese money has offered to come in and throw down on the movie to guarantee a wide release in China - by offering co-pro status they get around the import restrictions - and, in return, the Chinese are putting in some additional footage for their local market.

    IN NO WAY ARE THE STUDIOS REMOVING ANYTHING. It's the other way around. The Chinese are adding. Exact same thing happened with Looper. Rian Johnson released the version he wanted to release in the US and in China they added some extra footage from the Chinese sequence. Sure, I'd like to see that version just out of curiosity - I actually asked in a Hong Kong video shop while there in March if the BluRay they had there was the mainland cut, because I would have bought it if so, but the guy didn't know - but it wasn't ever the case that Johnson had some larger, intended version that was altered by the US distributor because it was 'too Chinese'. Same thing here.

    Opinions are only valid if they're based on the actual facts of what's actually happening in the actual case being discussed. Your opinion is not. It ignores the actual facts of what is really happening here. It is, instead, based on your general dislike of some general business practices carried out by some but not all companies on some but not all titles which they distribute.

  • Leandro

    Funny you talked about Shaolin Soccer. That's a perfect example of my position. The original version is 112 minutes long. But the dubbed US version is only 87 minutes long.

    Transformers 4 has only chinese content for the chinese market. Hollywood doesn't want any chinese content in the US/World version?

  • Holy christ, it's like talking to a wall.

  • A "Great Wall"?

  • Rimshot.

  • This is why we get the big bucks...

  • Sunwukong88

    How exactly?

  • ChrisP

    I'm not seeing how. Would you please explain?

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