This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

How Viacom's 'Transformers' Is Charming China's Hollywood Skeptics, Cashing In

TAIPEI, TAIWAN (TheStreet) -- Hollywood blockbuster Transformers: Age of Extinction is smashing box-office records in China, a country that historically squelches Western movies to stoke nationalism on the way to promoting its domestic film industry.

Transformers 4 was also a big hit out of the gate in the U.S., despite mixed reviews. But its sales have dropped drastically after the opening weekend. The film sold $100 million in tickets in its first weekend in the U.S., ending June 29, and $36.4 million for the week ending July 6 according to Rentrack (RENT).

Beijing is welcoming this latest summer thriller partly because it was filmed in China and the government wants local filmmakers to learn from U.S. production companies so that they might develop a stronger domestic movie industry.

When Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom (VIAB - Get Report) released Transformers over the past week, it earned $101.6 million, about equal to box office returns in North America, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The fourth in the Transformers series also won the distinction of being China's biggest ever cinematic opening at 200 million yuan, or $32.2 million.

Nissan LEAF: Revisiting the World's Best-Selling Electric Car

Tesla Motors Q&A: Batteries, Superchargers, Gigafactory and More

SABMiller to Sell Stake in South African Hotel and Casino Operator

Chinese viewers welcomed the film not because they're so hot on Hollywood itself but because parts of the sci-fi plot were set in China, specifically Chongqing and Hong Kong.

That means global exposure for the country's sights, an income generator for cities that supported the crews and proof that China is on the world film map.

"People's taste in film is pretty varied and they don't watch just American films," says Mei Feng, a professor at Beijing Film Academy.

Chinese actress Li Bingbing, known at home for roles in earlier action films, also starred in the latest Transformers. Her role suggests that the brains behind Transformers wanted a large China audience.

China is further unopposed to the local box office bounties being hunted down by Transformers 4 director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg because they will stoke local filmmakers to perfect a domestic industry.

Future releases would ideally reach cinemas outside China where audiences know little of Chinese dramas, even its trendiest ones such as The Breakup Guru, released June 27. China, keen to expand its culture abroad to match its economic supremacy, expects to develop a global film industry with the takeoff of an $8 billion movie-making complex built over four years by Wang Jianlin, one of China's richest people. "It's a two-way street," Mei says.

More releases of American films in China or Chinese films abroad will help major film distributors such as Time Warner's (TWX) Warner Bros. and projection system designer Imax, which already has stakes deep in China.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
VIAB $40.90 0.00%
AAPL $93.74 0.00%
FB $117.58 0.00%
GOOG $693.01 0.00%
TSLA $240.76 0.00%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,773.64 -57.12 -0.32%
S&P 500 2,065.30 -10.51 -0.51%
NASDAQ 4,775.3580 -29.9330 -0.62%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs