'Transformers 4' Marks New Era in Chinese, Hollywood Marketing Collaboration

8:02 PM PST 07/02/2014 by Clifford Coonan, Pamela McClintock

Michael Bay's cyborg tentpole did $134.5 million in its first five days in China, overtaking its North American box office.

Transformers: Age of Extinction has done bigger box office in China — the world’s second-largest film market — than in North America, due to major advances in China-Hollywood marketing cooperation, says China Movie Media Group (CMMG).

Michael Bay's fourth Transformers installment racked up $134.5 million in its first five days in China, which is higher than the $121 million it had earned in North American theaters by July 1.

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"The cooperation between CMMG and Paramount on TF4 is significant," Zhang Gen Ming, CEO and founder of CMMG, said in a statement. It marks CMMG’s first collaboration with a U.S. studio, Paramount Pictures.

"Paramount created the world’s top film while CMMG [brought] the full range of marketing services for TF4, which helped attract more Chinese audiences to come to the theaters. Because of the efforts of both Paramount and CMMG, TF4 will become the blockbuster with the biggest box office in mainland China this year and we couldn’t be more gratified," said Zhang.

Transformers: Age of Extinction was simultaneously released in mainland China and North America on June 27. Although it was only open for four days at the end of June, the movie was the highest grossing imported film in mainland China for the first half of 2014, CMMG said.

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CMMG was formerly part of state colossus China Film Group, which carries out domestic distribution, box-office promotion services and movie media advertising as an independent unit, while still cooperating closely with the parent company.

The five-day tally for Transformers: Age of Extinction broke the previous record for 3D fantasy epic The Monkey King and CMMG forecasts that Age of Extinction will overtake the $217.7 million record total in China for Avatar, the top-grossing film of all time.

The movie also broke records for its midnight showing, taking in $3.2 million, breaking Iron Man 3’s 2013 record of $1,985 million.

U.S.-based Jiaflix and the China Movie Channel (CCTV6), with its new media subsidiary M1905, are the production and promotion partners of the film. China Film Group is the sole import company in China.

Paramount's vice chairman Rob Moore said Age of Extinction's successful performance in China came out of Paramount's close working partnership with China Film Group.

"It was very educational" as China becomes more and more important, Moore said. He also noted that Age of Extinction was the first major studio movie to have its worldwide premiere in China.

CMMG’s marketing campaign in China included outdoor advertising, new media promotion and road shows. CMMG was also responsible for organizing the China premiere in Beijing on June 23, which was attended by Moore, as well as Bay, Mark Wahlberg, Jack Reynor, Nicola Peltz and Li Bingbing.

The group was previously supposed to market Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic Noah, but censors denied the movie a slot, citing religious reasons.

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CMMG provided a range of box-office marketing services to Age of Extinction, including box-office real-time monitoring, showtime/schedule arrangements, information collection, data analysis, box-office supervision and overall evaluation.

It also signed up China’s top 10 cinema chains and the TencentWechat online ticketing platform to jointly promote the movie.

CMMG owns the advertising channel of more than 4,000 movie screens for preshow ads all over China, covering 70 percent of the China box office in over 100 major cities.

In the past five years, the company has completed more than 200 domestic and foreign movie-marketing campaigns in China.

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