Robots in disguise set new Chinese box office record

By Toby Manhire In Movie Reviews, The Internaut

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transformers_chinaAny moment now, the Chinese box office record will be broken.

And the film to knock Avatar off its pedestal? Transformers: Age of Extinction.

The fourth in the Michael Bay series grossed more than 630 million yuan (US $102m) in its first weekend, according to the Chinese People’s Daily, and is closing in on the all-time record.

Though a Hollywood production, the film stars Chinese actress Li Bingbin and is replete with Chinese product placements and locations. One local tourism body has complained that a logo has not been prominently displayed as promised.

The film was made, reports the Wall Street Journal, using a strategy Paramount calls “officially assisted production”. That is, “an arrangement that offers some of the same benefits as a co-production, but that avoids some of the challenges co-productions entail”.

The domination of Transformers – it opened on more than 20,000 screens, or about 63% of the national total – has upset some.

Zhang Hongsen, who goes by the snappy title Director of Film Bureau Under the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, reportedly said he “hoped movie theatre chains would be more rational and give domestic movies a fair crack of the whip”, according to the news agency Xinhua. “Have faith in domestic movies!”

Zhang, appearing at the Shanghai Film Festival, might have considered reading aloud a few of the American reviews for the film, such as Peter Travers’ for Rolling Stone.

His opening paragraph is pretty clear:

Michael Bay has done the impossible. With Transformers: Age of Extinction, the start of a – everyone duck! – second trilogy in his metalhead franchise, the Bay-man has made the worst and most worthless Transformers movie yet. I know, hard to believe, right? How could any summer blockbuster be as dull, dumb and soul-sucking as the first three Transformers movies? Step right up.


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