Paramount is teaming with the state-backed China Movie Channel and U.S./Chinese streaming company Jiaflix in a “cooperation agreement” on Michael Bay‘s Transformers 4. This is the latest high-profile studio movie to enter into a Chinese partnership: Marvel’s Iron Man 3, which debuts later this week in China, was made with local production outfit DMG. Although that film was initially intended as an official co-production, Marvel and DMG untimately said they decided not to apply for the status. The Paramount announcement makes no mention of Transformers 4 being a co-production, but says China Movie Channel, under SARFT, “will cooperate with Paramount in broad-based support of the production of the film in China.” Transformers 4 will be released there on or about June 27, 2014. It will shoot in China and local post-production is a possibility. Chinese talent is also expected to be cast alongside Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor. Bay recently said Transformers 4 “will feel very different then the last three. We are embarking on a new trilogy.” The last Transformers pic, Dark Of The Moon, was huge in China, grossing $165M locally. The press release below spells out the details on the deal:
Los Angeles, CA – April 2, 2013 – 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.”