Transformers woo China as Michael Bay defies critics with box office hit

Transformers on track to become China’s highest-grossing film ever

Michael Bay's films are not exactly known for their poignant dialogue. In fact, there's very little dialogue and performances are usually flat, to say the least.

There are, however, lots of explosions, car crashes and giant robots. But you'd be a fool to underestimate Mr Bay, because if there's one thing he knows, it's how to make money by blowing things up.

Transformers: Age of Extinction, which our own film critic described as “meaningless mayhem on screen”, has made $575 million worldwide in less than two weeks, according to box office tracking firm Rentrak.

That's partly because Mr Bay, described by critics as a 13-year old trapped in the body of a man, has succeeded where others have failed: China's box office.

With much fanfare, the Transformers hosted three premieres in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong with a strong Chinese angle aimed at wooing local audiences. The film also features actress Li Bingbing, footage of Chinese landmarks and local brands. It also plays it safe.

There isn't a single line in the film that could upset Chinese authorities, in fact, Beijing will be pleased to see there is a scene where a Hong Kong official shouts: "We need to call the central government for help now!" as giant robots threaten to destroy mankind.

And the plan has worked as Age of Extinction is on track to become the highest-grossing film in China’s box office history, taking in $212 million since it premiered on 27 June, coinciding with its American release, which also conquered the number one spot at the US box office.

Despite the title, there is no sign the Transformers are anywhere near extinction and Mr Bay is laughing all the way to the bank.

The 30 Second Briefing: Transformers

Transformers have returned to the big screen. I thought they became extinct?

No, in fact, they’re bigger and stronger than ever. The fourth instalment of the robot franchise directed by Michael Bay, the man who brought us Transformers 1,2,3 and is known for his action blockbusters, has made $575 million worldwide in less than two weeks and is on track to become China’s highest-grossing film ever

Wow, that’s a lot of money. What are critics saying?

Well, they’re not exactly loving it. In fact, it is the worst rated film of the Transformers saga with some critics describing it as  “meaningless mayhem on screen” with little dialogue and too many explosions. But film goers around the world seem to be loving it, particularly in China.

China? Tell me more.

With much fanfare, Paramount, the studio behind the film, put in place a marketing strategy with a strong focus on China. The film hosted three premieres in the country, including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and it features Chinese actors, locations and products. Don’t be surprised if you see an advert for Lenovo followed by a huge explosion while Mark Wahlberg, the star of the film, tries to save mankind from extermination.

But why is China so important for Hollywood?

The country  boasts 11,000 film screens and the number is expected to double by 2050. And while piracy remains a problem, China is already the second-largest film market in the world after the US and it expected to overtake the American box office in terms of ticket sales by 2020, according to a recent study by EY. Hollywood is taking note and looking for new opportunities across emerging markets, in particular China, Russia and India, sometimes writing small parts for native actors and editing a different version for local audiences.

Who else has done this?

Just to name a few,  Marvel Studios edited a “Chinese” version of Iron Man 3 featuring actress Fan Bingbing, who played a young doctor that helps save Robert Downey Jr in a scene that was cut from the original version seen elsewhere. In Mission Impossible 4- Ghost Protocol, Indian superstar Anil Kapoor played a rich businessman who comes face to face with Tom Cruise and his team of super spies.

Does it always pay off?

Well, that depends. Critics argue Hollywood is playing it too safe and editing a “suitable” version for local audiences amounts to censorship, while others claim that the parts for local actors are too small and often play up to stereotypes.

News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Irradiated turkey and freeze dried mash potato will be on the menu this thanksgiving
video
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Citifocus Ltd: ACA - Financial Reporting

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Chartered accountant (ACA or CPA), must be...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: UI Designer/ User Interface Designer (UI, User Flow, Design)

£6000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: UI De...

SThree: The benefits of Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Head of Regional Sales - Financial Software - £130,000 OTE

Negotiable: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly expanding, global Software/ SaaS Vendor ...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?