11/15/2012

Michael Bay may set 'Transformers 4' in China


When Optimus Prime and Mark Wahlberg have their epic final showdown with Megatron in Transformers 4, it may be atop China's Yellow Mountain. Vulture has learned that Michael Bay and Paramount are looking at possibly setting the film in China. No, not because it'd be a crucial element to the story or a welcome change from the norm, but because it would help with the international box office.

Anyone who has been following the development of Iron Man 3 or Red Dawn probably isn't surprised by this. China is one of the largest foreign markets out there, and partnering with them on the production is a sure way to get your film a wide release there. That's why you see many productions scrambling to make sure they don't offend the Chinese in some way. Marvel hooked up to co-finance the next Iron Man flick, leading to a cast with more Chinese characters and an ethnically ambiguous version of Mandarin. Red Dawn notably had all of the Chinese insurgents changed to North Koreans. Nobody cares about the North Korean market.

This willingness to bend over backwards for some of that sweet Chinese cash could have its drawbacks.  A source close to the production not only confirms the location, but says that government cultural censors will consult on Ehren Kruger's script in order to be "sure that the Chinese military are depicted as a highly competent group of super-fighters, not some third-world force". Even for the notoriously image conscious Chinese that's just crazy. It's a movie, not a U.N. inquiry.

THR added today that Paramount was considering Thailand as a possible location, but that may be a negotiating ploy or just an additional site. Either way, this is clearly about the bottom line and not about taking Transformers into new directions. At most we can probably hope to see the Great Wall get crunched by a giant metal scorpion or something.