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China Exclusive: Film company president: 'Transformers 4' to center on China

Updated: 2013-06-03 09:51

BEIJING -- The head of a Hollywood production company said "Transformers 4" will not only be set in China, but will also feature a China-centric theme.

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"The film has a great deal to do with China. Effectively, China is a character in it," said Marc Ganis, president of Jiaflix Enterprises.

Paramount Pictures, the China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises announced in April that they had entered into an agreement regarding the production of "Transformers 4" in China.

The three agreed that the movie will feature a number of Chinese actors and actresses, with a public casting competition launched to select potential stars.

Well-known actress Li Bingbing has already been confirmed to play a significant role in the film.

"So much of the movie takes place in China and the character she plays is a Chinese national. So it's a very natural position for her to have," Ganis said.

"Transformers 4" will take a different approach than "Iron Man 3," which had a special Chinese version featuring extra footage starring Chinese actors. However, many Chinese felt that the extra parts were too contrived.

"There is going to be a single version (of the film) worldwide with a very significant Chinese component," Ganis said.

The Transformers franchise has been highly successful in China. The third film's earnings surpassed 1 billion yuan (163 million US dollars). The fourth installment is scheduled to be released next summer.

China's film industry has been growing rapidly, becoming the world's second-largest movie market in 2012. With traditional movie funding sources drying up, Hollywood studios increasingly see China as a destination of choice.

In order to truly tap into the Chinese film market, Hollywood studios and filmmakers should tell stories that are more culturally connected to Chinese people and culture, Ganis said.

"Work on story lines. Work on demonstrating what Chinese culture is like, what the Chinese people are like and show that to the world as part of the natural art of the story," he said.

Ganis said Chinese culture has featured strong storytelling for thousands of years.

"But they need to get assistance in sound, video, editing, budgeting and publicity in order tell their stories to a worldwide audience in a way that they are used to having stories told," he said.

Marc Ganis and his cousin Sid Ganis, the former president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, co-founded Jiaflix Enterprises, which intends to provide video-on-demand services similar to Netflix in China.