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Wulong Scenic Area sues 'Transformers 4' producers for credit

Reporter: Wu Guoxiu 丨 CCTV.com

08-15-2014 00:23 BJT

Officials at the Wulong Scenic Area in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality have sued the makers of Hollywood blockbuster Transformers 4 for not following through with a promise to credit the location.

Hollywood blockbuster Transformers 4 has set records for its massive box office returns. But it’s also drawing massive controversy.

Hollywood blockbuster Transformers 4 has set records for its massive box office returns. But it’s also drawing massive controversy.

"We believe Paramount Pictures Corporation, as the producer of Transformers 4, and the holder of the rights and obligations from our cooperation, should be responsible for violating the agreement. 1905 Internet Technology Co. Ltd, as the co-producer and agent, should also take joint liability," said Wulong Karst Tourism company general manager Huang Daosheng.

Wulong signed a contract with Transformers 4 last October. In exchange for using the UNESCO World Heritage site as a shooting location for five days, and receiving a hefty product-placement fee, producers promised to prominently show the words "China Wulong" in the movie. But they did not deliver. And worse, operators say the movie may have led potential visitors away from the scenic spot.

"The story was set near Hong Kong. People that don’t know us will think Wulong is adjacent to Hong Kong. It’s misleading to tourists and audiences. The effect can be long-lasting," Huang said.

The Chinese company that co-produced Transformers 4 claims that the omission was simply a mistake made by foreigners who do not know Mandarin, and who thought a stone tablet that reads "Qinglong Bridge" meant "China Wulong."

"I e-mailed Paramount as soon as possible. Paramount said their production company ILM did get the instruction, but maybe made a mistake. The staff don’t know Chinese. When I watched the movie premiere in Hong Kong with my American partner Mark, he said look, the ‘China Wulong’ stone tablet is really good. I double checked with him, and said do you mean these three characters? He said ‘Yes, isn’t this ‘China Wulong’?’ I said ‘No.’ It’s a language problem," said head of 1905 Internet Technology company Liang Longfei.

Hollywood blockbuster Transformers 4 has set records for its massive box office returns. But it’s also drawing massive controversy.

Hollywood blockbuster Transformers 4 has set records for its massive box office returns. But it’s also drawing massive controversy.

Liang says the scenic area should also take responsibility, as it delayed payment from its contract for five months, which resulted in a tighter shooting schedule for the movie.

"They didn’t pay until mid-April. After that, I told the American side they could put the Wulong part in the movie. And the producers did their best, those scenes were some of the key parts of the movie. But time was so tight, I didn’t see the finished version until it premiered," Liang said.

In the lawsuit filed at a court in Chongqing, Wulong demands to be properly credited in the movie’s DVDs and all other versions.

It also asks to be re-reimbursed the 4.8 million yuan, or nearly US$800,000, it paid to feature in the movie.

And requests further compensation for direct and expected economic losses, totaling 16 million yuan, or more than US$2.5 million. But even if they win, the operators of Wulong are disappointed that their picturesque location will not be better known by wider audiences.

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