Chinese tourism company sues Paramount over Transformers 4

Optimus Prime may have to cross swords with the second-largest film market to settle the dispute.

News Desk July 26, 2014

It is toil and trouble for Hollywood in China as a Chinese tourism company is set to sue Paramount Pictures and a producer of the film Transformers: Age of Extinction for failing to show the company’s logo in the movie. Paramount has been eager to ratchet up its earnings in what is the world’s second-largest film market, offering robust box-office revenues, reported Reuters.

Chongqing Wulong Karst Tourism Group manages the Wulong Scenic Area in southwest China, where one of the film’s scenes was shot. A company official said that since the firm’s logo did not appear on the screen, a few members of the audience were confused about where the scenes were shot.

For reneging on their contract, the company lodged a lawsuit seeking 20.8 million yuan ($3.36 million), against Paramount and the 1905 Internet Technology production company in a court in Chongqing city. The court had accepted the case, the Xinhua state news agency said.

“We had already communicated with the other parties, but they couldn’t fulfil our requests. It wasn’t possible to speak further, so we could only sue and if they’re not able to remediate the situation, we may just have to go to court,”  a spokesman for the company stated on Friday. A spokesman for Paramount, a unit of Viacom, declined to comment.

One of the film’s scenes was shot at Wulong Scenic Area in southwest China, but Paramount Pictures failed to add the firm’s logo on the screen. PHOTO: FILE

Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth in a series about form-changing robots that save the world, has raked in more than 1.38 billion yuan in China, to become its highest-grossing movie ever. According to Time, the film dethroned Avatar, which generated slightly less revenue when it premiered in 2010.

Xinhua reported that the tourism firm wanted Paramount to show the logo ‘China Wulong’ in all DVDs, television and digital platforms on which the movie will be shown, and had asked producers to return 4.8 million yuan in contract payments. It had also asked producers to bear losses of four million yuan, which it suffered when the scenic spot was shut for several days for filming, and to compensate it for expected profit losses of 12 million yuan.

Considering that the critical response to Transformers: Age of Extinction has been primarily negative, the rave reviews it received in China have been viewed condescendingly by many critics. “Chinese people are dazzled by anything Hollywood” has been the general opinion about its success in the country.

In actuality, the fact that the film is set and shot in China, with Chinese actors and resources, and had a timely premiere across more than 18,000 screens, are reasons enough for it to garner the response it did from the Chinese audience. It is important to note that the Chinese Communist Party carefully streamlines the films that are to be screened in the country, especially those of foreign origin. So, if a movie does well, its success has to be attributed to the iron-fisted government.

Compiled By: Ayesha Shaikh

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2014.

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