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In an alternative marketing approach, castmembers of Transformers: Age of Extinction, including Mark Wahlberg, have posted videos in China wishing nearly 10 million high-school students good luck with their college entrance exams.
It is hard to overstate the importance of these tests in China, which take place this weekend. In a country where education is one of the most highly prized assets, getting into one of China’s top universities is a national obsession.
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The whole country goes respectfully silent during the exams. Flights are re-routed, and people are banned from honking car horns near the exam rooms nationwide. Outside the exam halls, anxious parents wait, many having spent weeks attending temples to make offerings to ensure success. Exam hall monitors are not allowed to wear high heels or perfume for fear of distracting the students.
Transformers: Age of Extinction will open in China day-and-date with its June 27 U.S. release, a week after its world bow in Hong Kong. That will be after an estimated 9.39 million high-school students take the university entrance exam this year, an increase of 3 percent over last year.
“Hey, everyone, I’m Mark Wahlberg, star of the new movie Transformers 4: The Age of Extinction,” the actor says in his video. “The annual college entrance exam is coming, so I’d like to wish all of you students out there lots of luck, and don’t forget to catch Transformers 4 — after the exam!”
Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor also wished the students luck in achieving high scores in a joint video.
The casting of local actress Li Bingbing is also expected to give Transformers: Age of Extinction a boost in China, but the video postings on nearly all online video sites may do more to generate goodwill for the movie than any trailer.
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Major things are expected of Michael Bay‘s movie. In 2011, Transformers: Dark of the Moon took $165 million of its $1.1 billion worldwide revenue in China, and four young Chinese actors were chosen to play supporting roles in the fourth installment of the franchise via a reality TV show.
The exam papers were compiled by Liu Yanhua, a Chinese teacher who was taken to a mountain retreat and kept in complete isolation behind an electrified fence. There was strict security outside the center where she worked, and no electronic devices were allowed, and visitors were frisked for any written material coming or going.
Before the exams, known as the “gao kao,” many families book hotel rooms near the exam halls so the candidates can study and rest nearby.
In some cities, there are free taxi services for candidates, with special traffic lanes for vehicles taking students to the gao kao, while some parents in Shanghai reportedly booked taxis a week in advance for their children.
In Beijing, all leave is canceled for 7,000 of the capital’s traffic cops who are positioned on the roads to maintain traffic order and ensure students get to their exams on time.
The pressure is so high that cheating has become very inventive. Monitors are keeping an especially keen eye out for the use of smartphones as the devices get smaller and easier to hide each year. Even metal bra clasps are banned.
Watch the video messages from the Transformers: Age of Extinction stars here:
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