Paramount Pictures Sued for $27M in China Over 'Transformers 4' Product Placement

Michael Bay
Michael Bay and crew on the set of "Transformers 4"

A local tourism company says it paid Paramount and its Chinese partner $750,000 for the display of a logo that never appeared in the finished film.

Paramount Pictures has been hit with a $27.7 million (180 million yuan) lawsuit in China over a product placement that was allegedly omitted from Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Wulong Karst Tourism, a state-backed travel company, argued Tuesday in local court that Paramount Pictures and China Movie Channel, the Chinese co-producer of Transformers 4, failed to fulfill their obligations as part of a product placement deal signed in 2013, according to Chongqing Morning Post.

The case was accepted by a court in Chongqing city in 2014 and is now finally being heard.

Wulong Karst Tourism runs a resort in China's southern Wulong county, an area famous for its eroded limestone cliffs, a magnificent landscape known as "karst." Portions of Age of Extinction were shot in Wulong Karst National Park, and the tour company says its deal with Paramount was for a logo, featuring the Chinese characters “China Wulong,” to be displayed in the finished film, so Chinese audiences would know where the film was shot. The company says it paid nearly $750,000 (4.8 million yuan) before production began in exchange for the promotion.

According to local press, the defendants — Paramount and China Movie Channel — conceded that the logo didn't make it into the finished film, but said they took pains to make up for it. Michael Bay is said to have shot a short advertisement for the resort, and the Transformers production team left sets and props on the resort property, which Wulong Karst Tourism could leverage as a tourist attraction.

The Chongqing court has yet to deliver a verdict.

The Transformers 4 shoot in greater China was not without other incident. During a day of shooting in Hong Kong in 2013, Bay was attacked by two local thugs who had tried to extort the shoot for "protection money" and been rebuffed. One of the assailants allegedly came after Bay using a piece of an air conditioner as a weapon. The director managed to escape unscathed, and the attackers were subdued by security and arrested.  

Transformers 4 was a tremendous hit in China, grossing $320 million.