China's Weying Buys Into Paramount's 'Transformers: The Last Knight'

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
'Transformers: The Last Knight'

The firm will be a strategic marketing and promotion partner for the film in the Middle Kingdom.

Chinese online ticketing giant Weying Technology has taken a stake in Paramount Pictures' Transformers: The Last Knight. The firm will be a strategic marketing and promotion partner for the film in the Middle Kingdom.

Financial terms weren't disclosed, but the Chinese company will be entitled to an undisclosed share of global revenue for the film, including theatrical, video, TV, VOD and merchandising.

Founded in 2014 by Internet entrepreneur David Lim, Weying has grown to become one of the top three ticketing vendors in China, where over 80 percent of all movie tickets are sold online. Valued at $2 billion last year, the service has more than 100 million users and leverages its vast troves of data to generate targeted digital marketing campaigns.

Weying's first two investments in U.S. studio tentpoles, made earlier this year, were hit and miss. The company helped finance and jointly promote Paramount's xXx: The Return of Xander Cage and Ghost in the Shell — the former earned $164 million in China, while the latter took $29 million.

The new Transformers film will open in China on June 21. Expectations are especially high for the latest installment in the Michael Bay action franchise. Transformers: Age of Extinction earned $320 million in the Middle Kingdom in 2014 — it remains the third-biggest Hollywood film ever in China, behind only the last two Fast and Furious films from Universal.

"We've set up an office in Los Angeles, in Century City, to acquire content for China as well as to build strong, direct relationships with the studios," Luke Xiang, the vp and international face of Weying, told THR recently in Beijing. "In the year ahead, we will make several more investments in U.S. studio films, European independents and Japanese titles. We will be diversified because that's what the Chinese marketplace has an appetite for."

Local marketing tie-ups have become commonplace for studio tentpoles in the massive Mainland China market; Weying is the second Chinese firm to board Transformers 5. Chinese film company Huahua Media, which served as a marketing partner on Transformers 4, announced an unspecified stake in the new film at a Shanghai signing ceremony in December last year. The event was attended by the late Brad Grey, then chairman of Paramount, and Huahua CEO Wang Kefei.

Soon after, Huahua, in partnership with Shanghai Film Group, unveiled a high-profile $1 billion slate financing agreement with Paramount, which sees the Chinese partners bankroll 30 percent of every title from the U.S. studio over the next three years. 

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