In April 2013, China pulled out the stops for Robert Downey Jr’s splashy visit to Beijing in support of Iron Man 3. That included a red carpet gala at the Forbidden City; the only time a Hollywood film had ever been celebrated inside the imperial Taimiao Temple. The extra push paid off: The movie went on to be No. 2 at the Chinese box office for 2013 with over $121M. Marvel’s partner on Iron Man 3, DMG Entertainment, hosted the event and is now planning something similar for Johnny Depp and sci-fic action drama Transcendence. In his first visit to the Middle Kingdom, Depp’s two-day tour kicks off on March 31 and I’m told it will be “as exciting and uniquely DMG/China,” but also tailored specifically to Depp and the film, with a different location, themes and content. DMG says Depp will appear alongside “the most acclaimed Chinese actors, the most popular Chinese musicians, and the most influential Chinese artists at events that will be broadcast across China” in the lead up to the film’s local premiere. Transcendence is the first product of a partnership between Alcon Entertainment and Beijing-based DMG to finance, produce, and distribute films. Warner Bros releases the pic in the U.S. on April 18. There is no fixed China release yet, but if Transcendence follows the Iron Man 3 pattern, it will be as close to day-and-date as possible. When Downey Jr had his massive China experience last year, it kicked off “Iron Man Month” and there was still no firm release there either. Transcendence is expected to resonate with Chinese audiences, not only given Depp’s star power, but also the futuristic storyline and cutting-edge technology; this kind of promotional event is designed to ensure that. Based on the Black List script by Jack Paglen, the movie is the directing debut of Wally Pfister and co-stars Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, and Morgan Freeman.
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