'Transformers' peaking at right time in China

Posted: July 08, 2014

THE LATEST "Transformers" is blowing up in China.

This is not to be confused with the transformer that blew up on 9th Street yesterday, plunging the Daily News into darkness.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction," which features Chinese locations, actors and products, not to mention Mark Wahlberg, has so far earned almost as much in China as in the United States, driven by a record number of screenings for a foreign movie.

The fourth installment in the big-budget series has made an estimated $149 million in the U.S. and $134 million in China, according to figures from box office tracking website Box Office Mojo.

Director Michael Bay's film, which was released June 27 in both markets, heavily courted the Chinese audience by employing Chinese stars, basing part of the action in soon-to-be-destroyed Chinese cities and showing Chinese products such as liquor and milk.

(Milk is a Chinese product? Or is "liquor and milk" a well-known Chinese mixed drink?)

A reality TV show to choose four people to play roles in the film also helped drum up publicity.

Observers say "Transformers" is on course to beat "Avatar" as the biggest earner at the fast-growing Chinese box office. "Avatar" earned $218 million in China in 2010.

More than half of China's more than 20,000 screens showed the movie, so good luck trying to catch "Begin Again" or "Snowpiercer."


Harrison Ford's injury will cause production on "Star Wars: Episode VII" to be suspended for two weeks next month.

Disney announced yesterday that shooting would be halted next month to adjust the production schedule following Ford's accident on the Millennium Falcon. Ford, 71, broke his leg last month during filming of the much-anticipated sequel at Pinewood Studios outside of London.

Disney had said earlier that Ford's injury wouldn't cause any delays. The studio said yesterday that "Episode VII" is still "on track" to wrap in the fall and be released in December 2015.

* MTV.com reports that newcomers Pip Anderson and Crystal Clarke have been added to the "Star Wars" cast after a huge casting call that resulted in 67,000 auditioners.

MTV called the cast "impressively stacked," but we think that's sexist.

* According to UPI News Service, Taylor Swift invited a bunch of her besties to her Rhode Island home for the Fourth of July and they baked apple pie, went boating and played on a slip-and-slide.

Guests included Emma Stone, Emma's boyfriend Andrew Garfield, Lena Dunham, Jaime King, Jessica Szohr and Ingrid Michaelson.

* Pop princess Katy Perry, meanwhile, spent her July Fourth at Walt Disney World, posing for pictures with you-know-who. Katy even styled her hair to fit right in.

* Yo-yo dieter and designer Jessica Simpson married retired NFL player Eric Johnson Saturday at San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, Calif., her publicist Lauren Auslander confirmed.

Simpson and Johnson began dating in 2010. They have a 2-year-old daughter, Maxwell, and a 1-year-old son named Ace.

Auslander said Ace served as a ring bearer - always a good idea to give a 1-year-old something he can fit in his mouth - and Maxwell walked down the aisle as a flower girl.

It is the second marriage for both Simpson, 33, and 34-year-old Johnson. Simpson was previously married to singer Nick Lachey.

* Former "Scandal" actor Columbus Short has been arrested in Dallas for public intoxication.

Dallas police said Short, 31, was arrested at 2 a.m. Saturday at the Katy Trail Ice House, a popular beer garden and restaurant. A message left at the restaurant on Saturday was not immediately returned.

In May, the busy Short pleaded not guilty to felony battery for a fight that seriously injured a man at a West Hollywood restaurant. And he faced a misdemeanor spousal-battery case.

Short announced in April that he wasn't returning to the hit series "Scandal" for its fourth season.

Sir Paul McCartney returned to a concert stage Saturday in Albany, N.Y., after being sidelined for two months because of a virus, spinning out songs from the Beatles, Wings and a solo career that has spanned more than 50 years of rock 'n' roll.

"It's great to be back," said McCartney, who turned 72 two weeks ago, and played for almost three hours.

During his second encore, he brought a couple from Rochester onstage after the woman held up a sign saying her boyfriend wouldn't marry her until he met McCartney. After the man led the audience in a verse of "When I'm 64" to honor his age, he went to his knees and successfully proposed.

"And he booked us for the wedding," McCartney joked.

- Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.

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