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‘Transformers 4’ Adds International Flair

Chinese star Li Bingbing joins revamped cast

“Transformers 4” will have a distinctly different cast for its next installment. No Megan Fox, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or Josh Duhamel. And, for the first time (some would say “thankfully”), no Shia LaBeouf.

However, despite the huge cast changes, the extremely profitable Transformers movie franchise is alive and kicking with director Michael Bay at the helm and Mark Wahlberg set to take over the lead role.

In addition to Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Jack Reynor, Nicola Peltz and Sophia Myles all are set to appear in the film. And now, an international flavor has been introduced with the casting of Chinese actress Li Bingbing.

Bingbing has already started to cross over into American film, most recently co-starring in the Paul W.S. Anderson-directed “Resident Evil: Retribution,” and in “Snow Flower And The Secret Fan” and “Forbidden Kingdom.” She was also recently named Variety‘s Asian Star of the Year.

The casting of Chinese stars appears to be a trend that is gaining momentum in American film. Not necessarily because these are actors who Americans would recognize, but because it could help boost a film’s international box office.

Under an agreement between the China Movie Channel and Paramount, “Transformers 4” was permitted to film, perform theatrical promotion and possible post-production activities in China, as well as cast Chinese actors and actresses in the film. “Iron Man 3” used a similar agreement when casting of Wang Xueqi and Fan Bingbing, which also reportedly included additional scenes with those actors for the Chinese release of the film. It is unknown if “Transformers 4” will include similar additions.

“Transformers 4” is written by Ehren Kruger and will be directed by Bay. It begins shooting this summer in multiple locations in the United States and China. There are rumors that this film is intended to kick off another “Transformers” trilogy starring with Walhberg, Peltz and Reynor in the leading roles.

Since the previous installment of the franchise, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” is the fifth highest global grossing film of all time, taking in $1.124 billion dollars of worldwide (including $165 million in China).

“Transformers 4” is scheduled for release on June 27, 2014.

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