Michael Bay's Transformers 4 is shaping up to be one of the biggest and most interesting film productions in recent years. Not only is it slated to be a complete redesign of the franchise, a recently-announced production agreement with the state-backed China Movie Channel will make the film the first Western project actively supported by the Chinese government.
As part of the deal between Paramount and China Movie Channel, Transformers 4 will recruit a number of Chinese actors for the production. It turns out that part of this casting process will be handled in an unusual, highly public manner – at least four local actors will be chosen to join Transformers 4 as part of a talent competition broadcast on Chinese television.
THR reports that Transformers 4 will use a televised reality competition to cast four roles in China. The straightforwardly named Transformers 4 Chinese Actor Talent Search will consist of a competition that culminates in two previously-established and two amateur actors given parts in Bay's production. They will join more well-known Chinese stars, who will join the project via normal casting methods.
Given how popular both the Transformers franchise and reality talent competitions are in China, the Transformers 4 Chinese Actor Talent Search will end up being event television when it airs this summer. The series will premiere on the CCTV-6 channel sometime near the beginning of June and will be judged by both American and Chinese producers. One of these judges will be Lorenzo di Bonaventura (RED 2), one of the mastermind producers behind the entirety of the Transformers film franchise.
If one goes by the sheer number of speaking parts cast from China (and the pomp with which they are being chosen), it follows that there will be a good deal of action taking place overseas during the course of Transformers 4. We at Screen Rant have already theorized that the film's focus on China may see a return to Shanghai, site of a major Autobot/Decepticon dustup in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. However, the heavy contributions of the country to the film may indicate an extended stay – perhaps covering more than one location and a significant chunk of the film's run-time.
The amount of effort going into the Chinese side of the production indicates that Transformers 4 looks to take full advantage of Paramount's agreement with China Movie Channel. This makes sense, given both the possible return on investment from an eager Chinese box office and the raw opportunity of having carte blanche to shoot in the People's Republic. Containing vast deserts, subtropical mountains, and some of the largest cityscapes in the world, China offers vistas that would make any location scout or cinematographer salivate uncontrollably.
It will be fascinating to see if the Transformers 4 reality competition actually does find some serious undiscovered talent for the production. Additionally, we're eagerly awaiting to see what names from the Chinese film industry become attached to the production through more traditional means – especially if it gives us a better idea of just what Transformers 4 will be about.
Transformers 4 will land in theaters on June 27th, 2014.