LOS ANGELES Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures said on Tuesday it reached a deal with the government-run China Movie Channel and its online movie service partner, Jiaflix Enterprises, to produce "Transformers 4" in China.
China Movie Channel said in the joint announcement that the deal marks the first time it will work with a western studio to produce a film in China, although other studios such as Walt Disney Co have entered deals with other parties to produce films there to tap the booming Chinese box office.
The Chinese box office grew 36 percent to $2.7 billion in 2012, reflecting in part the country's move to open its market to more American movies. It did not lift its annual quota of 20 foreign films, but essentially expanded it through other concessions that pleased Hollywood. For instance, Beijing permitted 14 premium format films, such as IMAX or 3D, to be exempt from the quota, as will the 2D versions of those films.
"Transformers 4" is expected to be released in China and in the United States on or about June 27, 2014.
The China Movie Channel and Jiaflix in June announced they would launch an online service like Netflix in China this year.
The "Transformers" movies are among the most popular films ever released in China. "Transformers 3, Dark of the Moon," released theatrically in 2011, grossed $165 million in China and over $1.1 billion worldwide, the companies said.
The hottest-selling Hollywood film in China to date was 2009's "Avatar," which opened in China in the first week of January 2010 and went on to gross $221.9 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
(Reporting By Susan Zeidler. Editing by Andre Grenon)