michael_bayBy now, you are well aware that Michael Bay decided that trilogies are for suckers and got a green light for a fourth Transformers movie. You’re also probably aware of the fact that the latest installment of giant robots vs. giant robots takes place mostly in China. What you might not be aware of is that while shooting in Hong Kong, Bay’s crew was confronted by some young Chinese extortionists. Look for it in the blooper reels.

 

If you missed it, Michael Bay was filming some non-explosion scenes for Transformers: Age of Extinction when some young men began reeking havoc on the set by playing loud music and harassing actors. Their goal was to separate Bay from roughly $13,000 to allow him to film in their territory. Later on, another man high on drugs and rage, wielded an air-conditioning unit and attempted to KO Bay himself. Fortunately, with the assistance of several Hong Kong police in riot gear, he was unsuccessful.

 

Was Michael Bay deterred from continuing to film in Hong Kong? If you think that’s the case, then you obviously don’t know Michael Bay. He made Megan Fox bend over a motorcycle once, so the man can do anything explosion related.

 

Not only is the Armageddon director going to continue filming wherever he pleases, he actually enjoys Hong Kong. In an interview with South China Morning Post, Michael Bay gushes about the time he’s spent in China and even says that Hong Kong is “a very visual city.” So Bay thinks Hong Kong is “visual.” Literally every city is visual, if you can see it. I guess if you’re used to spending your time in Los Angeles or a green-screen studio, everything else seems so pretty.

 

You may have drug-addled extortionists, Hong Kong, but Michael Bay hearts you.Transformers-4-Autobot-Cars

 

As of this post, Bay is still shooting his latest CGI infused masterpiece, which has relocated to mainland China. The next scenes will be shot in Beijing and the Great Wall, which will be blown up for your entertainment. Catch it in June 2014.

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While the Chinese/Hollywood co-production Outcast finishes shooting in China, the Con Air actor and his ponytail (no, really) sat down with CCTV to talknicolas-cage about the film, his role, and a few other things on his mind. “What ‘things?’” you might ask. One of those “things,” as you put it, was the noticeable lack of leading roles for male Asian actors in Hollywood. Perhaps Mr. Cage was too busy saying “yes” to Season of the Witch to notice any of the Harold and Kumar movies. Hm?

 

Nicolas Cage may not be too savvy when it comes to selecting the right acting role, but he does understand how the entertainment industry is slowly migrating from Hollywood to China. In addition to calling out Hollywood for not inviting Asian males to casting couches, Cage goes on to point out the possibility, and likelihood, that China will be the new face of the film industry.

 

Outcast_poster He also brought up his son, Kal-El, who Cage named after Superman’s birth name on Krypton (no, really). Kal-El (Cage’s son, not Superman) is half Korean, and his father speculates that some day he might want to be an actor when he grows up, just like daddy. Unless something changes in Hollywood, Kal-El Cage may never realize his potential in show business, but he’ll still have the coolest name ever.

 

It seems like Nicolas Cage has a very good eye on the evolution of the film industry, but one can’t help but wonder about his motives. Granted, his observations are accurate, but it may be a move to make some new friends on the winning team. That most likely isn’t the case, seeing as how Nicolas Cage’s career isn’t waning from lack of prominent roles in film, right? Right.

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If you’re still vaguely offended by whatever it was Miley Cyrus was trying to accomplish with her VMA performance (if it was give your grandma a seizure, she was successful), please understand that MTV sometimes uses it’s powers for good instead of twerking evil. In fact, they are so dedicated to erasing your minds of Miley’s tongue-out performance that they are set to launch a documentary about the human trafficking epidemic in China. See? You’ve already forgotten about Miley Cyrus, haven’t you? In fact, Miley who?

 

han-gengThe documentary will be launched through MTV’s EXIT campaign and is hosted in Mandarin by Han Geng, one of China’s rising stars in the pop world. If you’re not one of his 35 billion Weibo followers, Han is a 29-year-old singer who started his career in South Korea with a popular group called Super Junior. He can be seen in China’s So Young and will be featured in the mostly Chinese cast of the upcoming Transformers 4 (I get a check from Paramount every time I mention that movie in a post).

 

Joining Han are actual victims of the human trafficking trade. Among the survivors are Xioa Xiang, a boy abducted for illegal adoption, Kyi Kyi, a woman from Myanmar forced into marriage, and Thien, a Vietnamese girl forced to be a sex worker. The documentary is roughly 36 minutes in length and is available to broadcasters without cost or rights restrictions.

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Another day, another story about how a major Hollywood Summer blockbuster goes head to head with a pacificrim_071513_1600low-budget domestic film at the Chinese box-office. More often than not, Hollywood films dominate in China, with a few exceptions here and there. Unfortunately for the Chinese film industry, not every film can be Lost in Thailand or Journey to the West, and Goliath inevitably defeats David. That recently occurred when a homegrown coming-of-age drama (Tiny Times) was forced to go up against giant robots fight giant monsters (Pacific Rim).

 

SPOILER ALERT: The robots won.

 

Guillermo del Toro’s latest raked in $9 million on its opening day in China. While that doesn’t sound like much compared to its opening in the States, this is the biggest opening for a Warner Bros. movie in China. After about a week in theaters, Pacific Rim went on to make $33.9 million, while Tiny Times only brought home $27.2 million. We previously reported on how well the Chinese film was doing, but it seems that bright star is starting to fade.

 

f2c2084a20a44623a6ad365b9922720e0df3d781The threat of Hollywood dominance in the Chinese film market has prompted the Chinese government to enforce a “black-out” period, allowing for more of China’s domestic films to have a shot at being seen without the threat of being outshined by a robot/monster punch orgy.  China did the same thing last year, which lasted a whole two-month period. With Hollywood out of the way, China’s own filmmakers will be able to screen One Night Surprise, Tiny Times II (that was fast), and Saving Mother Robot. Enjoy, China!

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I don’t know about you, but wThe-Voice-of-China-Season-2hen I think China, I think musical competition reality TV. If that’s not how you see China, apparently you haven’t been watching Chinese TV lately. In the eyes of China’s media regulators, the television airwaves in their country are saturated with singing contests and have taken measures to resolve what they feel is “uniformity.”

 

China’s State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television released a statement that satellite broadcasters won’t be producing any new televised singing competitions. In addition, any similar show that has already been completed, but yet to air, will postpone their runs to avoid conflict with shows that are already broadcasting. Of those shows currently duking it out are The Voice of China, Chinese Idol, and China’s own version of The X Factor. Of the singing competition shows in the works, seven were lucky enough to continue their run, while two were forced to postpone. Three more shows were met with termination out of the gate, including one show called China’s Red Songs Contest.

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It’s unclear at this point whether or not this new policy, which has been referred to as the “Song Restriction Order,” will have any effect on Michael Bay’s attempt to use Chinese reality TV to cast the next Transformers movie. In case you haven’t been following, Bay seeks fresh Chinese talent to cast Transformers 4 through a reality competition show called Transformers 4 Chinese Actor Talent Search (subtle, I know). Since the fourth film will take place in China, and is Chinese co-produced, the show will seek authentic Chinese actors, both professional and newcomers, to join its cast. Assuming Chinese media regulators don’t get in the way, good luck to those brave young actors vying for a shot to work with CG fighting robots.

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after-earth-jaden-smith-volcano You’ve seen After Earth, right? I didn’t think so. In fact, considering that the only actor you want to see in the film is a minor character, its director doesn’t have the greatest track record, and has obvious thematic references to Scientology, it’s no surprise that many Americans passed on it. For those of you keeping score at home, this is M. Night Shyamalan’s fifth consecutive bomb in the box-office. With such a low reception in the States, and every critic tearing it apart, After Earth’s only hope was its audiences overseas. Fortunately, it found a new home in China.

 

Perhaps due to Jaden Smith’s street cred in China for the Karate Kid remake, the Chinese moviegoers have already dropped over $30 million on the American sci-fi dud since it opened in their country on July 12. For nearly two weeks, After Earth has enjoyed the number one spot at the Chinese box office. Coming in second is a South Korean film about a gorilla that plays baseball, whereas third place goes to a Chinese adaptation of a film about a group of students who trap a spirit in a pen. Those words just happened. How a Shyamalan film beat out an ape that can throw a mean pitch and some kids who put a ghost in a writing implement is beyond me.

 

Despite being king of the cinematic hill for well over a week, it is expected that Shyamalan’s latest Channing-Tatum-White-House-Downbomb will have to surrender its Chinese championship belt to another American flop. White House Down is set to make its run in China, where it has already secured 29% of film screenings in the country. Roland Emmerich’s latest, which is retitled “A Crisis Shocking to the Heavens” in China (no really), is estimated to have already raked in almost $4 million, and it’s only just started. If this information is indicative of a Chinese trend, it is that China is fond of American cinematic table scraps. In that case case, this summer should ensure that Chinese moviegoers will not go hungry.

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HTS0080_v001.1052_R.JPG Remember that insanely profitable third chapter of the insanely popular film franchise based off of the insanely popular comic book hero? Of course you don’t do. The last installment of the Iron Man trilogy, Iron Man 3, has been doing a victory lap around the globe, raking in ticket sales from the good people of Earth who either waited until the last minute to see it or had to wait until it opened in their country. The Metal Man, as Thor calls him, made his most recent victory in Hong Kong, where he raked in $13.6 million in its two month run. It is currently sitting pretty at the highest grossing film in Hong Kong for the first half of 2013.

 

In addition to Iron Man 3’s victory, World War Z takes second place on Hong Kong’s greatest hits list of ’13. It’s only been in theaters for two weeks, but the zombie-infused thriller has pulled roughly $4 million from Hong Kong’s box office. However, it’s still running in theaters, so it may have the opportunity to snatch the number 1 spot from Iron Man 3. Sitting at number 3 is A Good Day to Die Hard, Bruce Willis’ latest (last?) installment in the long running Die Hard saga, which received $3.7 million form Hong Kong moviegoers. For those of you who were wondering who would win in a fight between Iron Man and John McClane, there’s your answer.20130320174420625

 

Way down at number 4 is Journey to the West, Stephen Chow’s epic fantasy, which earned $3.66 million. The Chinese film is a homegrown favorite in the mainland, but on a very short list of Chinese-language films that screened in Hong Kong. After the first half of 2013, Hong Kong’s box office has sold over $98 million in tickets.

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If you need further proof that China is gradually losing interest in Hollywood sensationalism in favor of homegrown films, the latest piece of evidence comes in the form of a coming-of-age tale called Tiny Times. In preparation for its official release on Thursday, the Chinese drama will have a sneak preview tonight, Wednesday evening, on over 600 screens in 60 cities across China. Ambition is high, given the huge reception it received at its world premiere at the Shanghai International Film Festival. The anticipation is that Tiny Times will sell out in every single screening.

 

001fd04cf34a128abf2a3aIf you’re curious about that title, it’s not a film about a newspaper for short people, so stop asking. Tiny Times is the story of four female university graduates trying to find their place in life as adults. The film is an adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name, and is directed by its author, Guo Jingming. Tiny Time’s central protagonist is Lin Shao, played in the film by Mini Yang Mi, who faces real-life challenges of securing a job and dealing with overbearing bosses. What young adult, Chinese or America, couldn’t relate to that?

 

The appeal to young adults is unmistakable, which is exactly the demographic the people behind Tiny Times are looking to capitalize on. The Chinese youth market is undergoing near-constant metamorphosis, as evident in a recent statistic that suggested that the average age of a typical moviegoer in China went from 25 to 21 in the span of three years. With the changing environment in China’s movie-going crowd, their advertising methods must also adapt to survive. Billboard advertising was thrown under the bus in favor of Weibo, of which Guo has almost 20 million followers, and other social media outlets. In other words: Billboards are for your grandpa!Tiny-Times-8

 

According to Guo, young Chinese moviegoers are “impulsive” and “really, really need to see the film the moment it’s available.” If his assertion of China’s youth is correct, tonight’s Tiny Times is likely to perform as expected. It’s not difficult to see the parallels between this sneak preview and the widely popular midnight showings of countless summer blockbusters in America. That being said, they clearly got the idea from us. You’re welcome, China. You’re welcome.

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No, it’s not a wacky sit-com premise that I’m certainly not writing a pilot script for. Let me explain . . .

 

the_great_gatsby_trailerPrime Focus, the Indian VFX major, Hong-Kong’s AID Partners Capital, and Chinese partner Zhejiang Jingqi Wenhua recently forged a joint venture to bring Chinese film/TV to India. At the Shanghai International Film Festival, Prime Focus announced that it would be opening a new office in Beijing later this year. Prime Focus, which is based in Mumbai, already has offices in Los Angeles, Vancouver, New York, and London.

 

Even if the name “Prime Focus” doesn’t sound familiar to you, you’ve most likely seen their work without realizing it. The VFX Company has collaborated on numerous Hollywood projects like The Great Gatsby, which opened the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where they provided 3D conversion and archive footage colorization. Prime Focus was also responsible for the 3D conversion of the 1987 Academy Award-winning film The Last Emperor, which also screened at Cannes. Two of this summer’s major blockbusters, World War Z and White House Down, were both given Prime Focus’ 3D treatment. Their past credits include Men in Black 3, Wrath of the Titans, Star Wars: Episode one – The Phantom Menace, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the list goes on and on . . .world-war-z-poster-banner

 

The CEO of Prime Focus, Ramki Sankaranarayanan, recently remarked, “We are all set to bring the best of Prime Focus to China, one of the largest content markets in the world.” Sounds like someone tipped him off that China has become the second largest film market in the world. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be waiting by the mailbox for my check.

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Life Of Pi“Iron Man 3” is Hollywood’s most recent crowning achievement in the mainland of China, which wouldn’t be the first time an American blockbuster made headway in the 2nd largest film market in the world. The longstanding history of success may be the reason why China, in a surprise move, is currently implementing a tax on foreign films’ revenue within their country. This move by the Chinese government seems to have put major Hollywood studios in a standoff position by refusing to pay said tax.

 

Last year, an agreement was made, thanks to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and President of China Xi Jinping, which would allow Hollywood more elbowroom in the growing Chinese market. In addition to that, it would ensure any foreign studio, Hollywood or otherwise, would earn 25% from box-office revenue in China. The U.S. studios contest that China’s new tax goes against this agreement and will most likely seek action from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, who would then make an appeal to the World Trade Organization.

 

The success of “Life of Pi” earned Fox $23 million from China’s total box-office revenue. However, China imposed a $2 million tax based off of its impressive run in their country. Fox is now refusing the money, insinuating that if they accepted, they would also enable China to continue to impose their potentially agreement-breaking tax on Hollywood. Several other studios, including Sony who will make a second attempt to release “Django Unchained” in China May 12, are assuming Fox’s position in refusing the tax. A potential outcome could mean that, if U.S. studios continue to resist, China would simply refuse to screen any Hollywood film from a studio that proves uncooperative. That being said, the hundreds of millions of dollars “Iron Man 3” continues to make may never be cashed on U.S. soil.

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