Another Chinese Company Mulling Lawsuit Over 'Transformers 4' Product Placement (Report)

3:08 AM PST 07/03/2014 by Clifford Coonan
Paramount Pictures
"Transformers: Age of Extinction"

A tourism marketing company says it paid $1.6 million for a historic site in Wulong to appear in the film but didn't get the promised exposure.

A tourism marketing company in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing is the latest business in the country to consider a lawsuit against the producers of Transformers: Age of Extinction after the movie's final edit reportedly made no reference to a scenic spot used during filming.

Michael Bay's cyborg tentpole has been an enormous success in China, earning $134.5 million in its first five days in the country, overtaking its North American box office.

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The Paramount movie has done much to ensure success in China, shooting scenes in Beijing, Hong Kong and elsewhere, and lining up a cast of Chinese stars, including Li Bingbing.

However, it has had some legal headaches to contend with in the world's second largest film market.

Last week, there was a spat between the producers of Transformers: Age of Extinction and Chinese investors involved in the movie, which was resolved only after Bay and the owners of the iconic Pangu Plaza hotel in Beijing reached some kind of compromise.

Now the company working on behalf of the administrators of the Three Natural Bridges scenic location in Wulong, near Chongqing, said that the final edit of the movie did not mention Wulong as promised in the credits despite payment for prominent placement in the movie, and that they were considering legal action.

The Three Natural Bridges is a remote and spectacularly beautiful limestone karst area, which has UNESCO World Heritage protected status, and was used in the filming of Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower.

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The Kasite tourism company said that before the Transformers 4 crew started shooting in Wulong, it signed a deal with one of the Chinese partners in the film, China Movie Channel's subsidiary M1905.

"This stated that Wulong will appear in a striking position. We want to boost the reputation of Chongqing Wulong as a world natural heritage site through Transformers 4," Huang Daosheng, general manager of Kasite Tourism Co., told the Chongqing Evening News.

The site was closed to the public for five days of shooting in October and November last year, and local media said the closure cost $819,500 in lost revenue from admission tickets, refreshments and hotel bookings. The administrators of the area also say they paid $1.6 million for it to appear in the movie to introduce the area to an international audience.

"On June 20, we sent someone specially for the premiere in Beijing, and there was no mention of Wulong in Chinese or English. On the next day, we sent a letter to the company (M1905) and they agreed to solve the problem," said Huang. "However, it was only four or five days before its release. There was not enough time."

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An M1905 spokesman surnamed Liang said the reason the name was not included was because the tourism company had postponed paying the money for more than five months and this had shortened the production period. "In this difficult environment, the production team neglected the detail to put in Wulong," Liang told the paper.

Huang insisted the company had paid on time, as outlined in the contract.

"We are more than happy if a big movie like this comes to Wulong to shoot. We wouldn't dare to neglect them, and we don't have any reason to postpone payment. We are negotiating the solution now. We think it is not necessary to use the law at this stage, but we reserve the right to take legal action. Currently, we are still looking forward to a satisfactory outcome," said Huang.

Paramount could not immediately be reached for comment.

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