The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines yin and yang as “opposite sides, elements, or extremes,” while other definitions add that the two are complementary forces that can’t exist without each other. Given the events of the past month, Chinese philosophers might have a field day applying the concept to the case of Transformers: Age Of Extinction and its run on the mainland. The film is exploding at the local box office, while at the same time it’s becoming a magnet for legal threats raised by Chinese sponsors.
Last Thursday, representatives of the Wulong Karst National Park located in Chongqing said they were mulling legal action against producers of the film. This followed calls for edits by another sponsor, Pangu Investments, which made headlines just before the movie’s release. The latter matter was swiftly resolved. But at a press conference on Monday, Wulong confirmed it is going forth with a suit, local reports say. The move comes as Chinese research firm Ent Group reports that TAOE has overtaken James Cameron’s Avatar as the top-grossing movie ever in the territory. Paramount has yet to weigh in, reporting late yesterday that the Michael Bay film had earned $52M in the market over the weekend with total box office at $212.8M. But Ent Group says that as of July 6, the film had taken $222.74M. Avatar earned $221.9M in 2010. I had previously heard that the milestone would likely not be reached until Wednesday. Because of currency fluctuations, the yuan renminbi number is the key figure and China.org said today that TAOE had earned 1.426B yuan by Monday night. Avatar was worth about 1.39B during its run. I’ll update figures as soon as I get them from Paramount.
Now, back to the lawsuit. Wulong, a UNESCO World Heritage site, says the park’s name was due to be featured on screen announcing the locale, but is not in the finished film. There also is concern that because the scenes immediately following take place in Hong Kong, it mistakenly gives the impression the two are nearby when they are actually over 700 miles apart. Per the Associated Press, the Chongqing Wulong Karst Tourism Co said it will sue both Paramount and its Chinese partner, 1905 Internet Technology Co of Beijing (M1905.com).
Liang Longfei, head of M1095, told local press last week that Wulong delayed payment to Paramount for five months. That, he said, resulted in “production time being very limited” and further led to a misunderstanding with the non-Chinese production team. According to the China.org report today, Paramount offered settlement and compensation, saying that all globally released DVDs and all TV and digital platforms will later show the logo. Huang Daosheng, general manager of Chongqing Wulong Karst Tourism, was reportedly not impressed, saying the loss was too great. “Without the logo or subtitles, people will never know where it is,” he said. In a statement to China.org, M1905.com said it has been actively trying to resolve the dispute and will not comment further since Wulong plans to take the matter to court. M1905 also noted in the statement, “We will reserve the right to sue false statements,” a nod to Wulong’s comments to the press about its handling of the situation.
Another brand, Hubei Zhou Heiya Food Co, is also said to be displeased with its placement deal and is consulting attorneys. “Our company is not happy,” deputy general manager Hao Lixiao told the Chongqing Morning Post, per China.org. “They promised that our products would make an impressive appearance, like an actor holding it. But it didn’t happen, audiences will not notice it easily and it wasn’t worth the seven-figure dollar sum we paid.”
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