Having announced plans in early April for Transformers 4 to be a Chinese co-production involving the inclusion of some Chinese content, Paramount Pictures has now gone one step further in shaping the project along Chinese lines – by casting its Chinese roles through a reality television show, one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the country.
Launched at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday, the Transformers 4 Chinese Actor Talent Search will be a new talent competition television show in which the four winners – two with professional acting experience, two without – will be granted roles in the next entry of the franchise.
Co-produced by Paramount, China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises, Transformers 4 will be partly shot in China and is slated for an opening on June 27, 2014.
The show is set to commence broadcast in China in June 2013, with a panel of judges comprising Sid Ganis, the former head of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the current chairman of Jiaflix; the film’s producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura and casting director Denise Chamian; Paramount’s marketing and distribution chief Megan Colligan.
The film’s Chinese backers will be represented by Jia Qi, deputy director of the film’s Chinese co-producers China Movie Channel; and Liang Longfei, vice-president of m1905, the channel’s portal through which contestants (who need to be over 18) can register for the show.
Producers said the four winning contestants will join “a number of talented Chinese actors and actresses” in Transformers 4. The third film in the franchise, Dark of the Moon, generated $165 million in China, and stands fourth in the country’s overall box-office rankings behind Avatar,Lost in Thailand and Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons.
Through pre-recorded video footage, Ganis told the Chinese press that the show will “give actors and fans of the Transformers franchise the opportunity to be appearing in a major motion picture, and it will provide the world audience yet another glimpse of the Chinese people, the Chinese culture and China itself.”
DiBonaventura added that his team “are looking forward to becoming more and more part of the Chinese audience’s experience by bringing the Chinese culture, Chinese traditions and Chinese talent into the movie”.
By hyping the production of the film with a reality show, the Transformers producers have certainly tapped into the demands of China’s vast television audiences. The country’s viewers have become increasingly transfixed in recent years by this format, and the most-viewed programs today are dating shows as well as one in which celebrities participate in an extended period of training in high-platform diving.