China looms large on movie screens

China looms large on movie screens
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST starring Chinese actress Fan Bing Bing as teleporting mutant Blink.

BEIJING - An alliance between a robot and a food chain famous for duck necks might not seem like the most likely combination. But in Hollywood, nothing is impossible.

Zhouheiya, a Chinese fast-food chain known for its signature spicy duck necks, is teaming up with Transformers 4 - the highly anticipated Hollywood summer blockbuster - for a comprehensive promotion campaign.

"Snacks and films are a perfect fit, much like beer and football," said Annie Li, president of Reach Glory Communications, a leading entertainment marketing company in China.

"Zhouheiya will benefit immensely from the association with a movie franchise that has grossed over US$2.7 billion (S$3.4 billion) across the world."

Reach Glory, which is handling the collaboration between Zhouheiya and Transformers 4, also handled the product placement campaign of Chinese TV-set maker TCL in the popular movie Iron Man 3.

According to Ms Li, the alliance between Zhouheiya and Transformers 4 includes cinema advertisements and viral videos, and the decoration of some Zhouheiya stores with a Transformers theme.

"Zhouheiya has 400 stores in communities, airports, train stations and other major locations across China, which will work as easy promotion platforms for the film," she said. The studio has also incorporated some Chinese elements in Transformers 4, with an eye on the growing audience in China.

Some of the fight scenes between the Autobots and Decepticons were filmed in Wulong, Chongqing. Popular Chinese actress Li Bingbing plays a prominent role in the movie, along with Mark Wahlberg and four rising Chinese actors selected from a national TV reality show.

China Movie Channel, a TV channel affiliated to the state-run China Film Group, has helped Paramount with production-related work and will distribute the film in China. However, the film is still not an official co-production.

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