Chinese firm sues Paramount in ‘Transformers’ product-placement beef

Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg in a scene from “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”
(Andrew Cooper / Paramount Pictures)

The management of a scenic park in southwestern China featured in “Transformers: Age of Extinction” said Wednesday that it had filed a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures and one of the studio’s Chinese partners seeking about $3.4 million in damages over what it says is a product-placement deal gone sour.

Chongqing Wulong Karst Tourism Group Co. claims the studio failed to include the park’s name in the film as agreed in its contract with M1905, Paramount’s go-between on the product-placement deal. As a result, park representatives said, viewers of the movie were left with the mistaken impression that the scenes filmed at the Wulong park are in Hong Kong.

The park’s management said it wanted Paramount to include the park’s name and logo in the DVD version of the movie, as well as any versions aired on TV or online. It also is seeking the return of the product-placement fee of about $800,000, another $660,000 for lost revenue during the park’s closure for eight days of filming, and $2 million in general damages.

The company said it formally filed the suit on Tuesday with the Third Intermediate People’s Court of Chongqing.


Paramount representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Previously, M1905’s management said that it was trying to resolve the dispute and that the park was partly to blame because it had paid the product-placement fee late, a charge Wulong executive Huang Daosheng denied in an interview earlier this month. M1905 is the online subsidiary of state-run television’s China Movie Channel, also known as CCTV6.

The park’s suit is the second legal dispute filed over “Transformers” product-placement contracts in China. In June, just ahead of the film’s release, Beijing’s Pangu Plaza hotel and mall complex sued two other go-betweens who helped arrange its product-placement deal with Paramount in China.

Featuring extensive scenes set in China, several Chinese actors and a raft of Chinese product placements, the fourth installment in the “Transformers” series has become the all-time best performing film at the mainland box office since its release June 27. Its total haul in the territory has surpassed $285 million, and the movie will probably end up crossing the $300-million mark.

Huang, the Wulong executive, said no one from the park had seen the film until June 23. Until then, everything seemed to be on track, he said. Paramount representatives had visited the park six or seven times before filming, and park staff had hosted director Michael Bay at the nature reserve and assisted him with research at the site, which features natural limestone bridges, gorges and caves.


Although the park’s contract for the product placement was signed only with M1905 and not directly with Paramount, Huang said the park decided to name Paramount as a defendant because it was the producer of the film and the “responsible party.”

Twitter: @JulieMakLAT

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