Paramount Studios is facing a lawsuit for, get this, not having enough product placement in Transformers 4. Yes … not enough. Now, while you are picking yourself up off the floor let me say, it’s really not having enough of the RIGHT product placement in the movie.
Gizmodo reports the lawsuit is upwards of $27 million for “failing to place a product from a product placement deal.”
The plaintiff in the case is Wulong Karst Tourism, a Chinese travel company that paid $750,000 to have their logo in the movie. Paramount didn’t make it happen, and Wulong is noticeably miffed.
Paramount countered by offering a commercial shot by Michael Bay, who was “nice enough” to leave behind the props and sets … for some reason.
Now Wulong Karst has successfully talked a Chinese court to hear its case, and this is where the PR gets troublesome for both Paramount and Bay.
The Importance of Relationships with China
Everyone in the states – even fans of the series – realizes the biggest money for these blockbusters is to be found in China. The Chinese market for Giant Robot Action Flicks is massive. They love them, especially when China is involved in some way or another. Hence, the multiple China scenes in the last movie.
But if Paramount ends up in court for failing to honor an agreement with a Chinese company, how will that play when the time comes to release Transformers 5 – because you know it’s coming.
Right, and it gets worse because Wulong is aligned and partly owned by the Chinese government. Now Paramount has to make nice not only with legions of Chinese fans but with a government that is NOT accustomed to losing out on trade deals with the United States.
So, if you’re wondering, that’s pretty much how $750,000 became $27 million. That’s how much a positive PR relationship with China means to Paramount – or, at least, how much China thinks it means to Paramount. They may not have to cough up that much, but Paramount is bound to lose this case, and it will end up paying a lot more than 750K to buy back Chinese good will.
If there’s less money in the effects budget for your favorite Transformer next time, you’ll know why.