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Chinese scenic spot plans to sue over Transformers

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By LOUISE WATT
Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) - A company that operates a scenic landscape area in southwest China which features in the latest "Transformers" movie says it will sue its producers for breach of contract.

It is the second Chinese company to make public a dispute with Paramount Pictures over "Transformers: Age of Extinction," which heavily courts the Chinese audience with Chinese locations, actors and products and is on track to become China's biggest-ever grossing movie.

The Chongqing Wulong Karst Tourism Co. Ltd. said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Tuesday that the producers had failed to show its logo prominently in the movie as promised. As a result, it is not clear to viewers that the shots of the scenic spot in the movie are of Wulong, because they are interspersed with scenes from Hong Kong, and other tourist spots are claiming the karst peaks are theirs, it added.

It said it would file a suit at a court in Chongqing city demanding unspecified damages against Paramount Pictures and Beijing-based 1905 Internet Technology Company, one of the movie's Chinese partners. Wulong said it wanted measures taken to mitigate the damage and compensation for direct and indirect economic losses.

Paramount didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 1905 said in a statement on its website that Wulong had not paid them on time.

Last month, a Beijing property developer said it had filed a lawsuit alleging that Paramount and two of its Chinese associates had failed to deliver on pledges to hold the movie premiere at its hotel and feature images of its property in trailers and movie posters. Soon after the developer and Paramount said they had smoothed out the dispute.

The latest dispute comes as China overtook the U.S. in "Transformers" box office earnings. According to the box office tracking website Box Office Mojo, the movie had earned $213 million in China and $175 million in the U.S. as of Sunday. It was released on the same day in both markets.

The movie is expected to become China's highest-grossing movie early this week. Currently, the 2010 movie "Avatar" holds that accolade, having made $218 million in China.

"Transformers" has been helped by a favorable screening in China, with over half of all screens showing the film at the beginning of its release.

While the first three "Transformers" movies were already good earners in China, director Michael Bay heavily courted the Chinese audience in his latest by employing Chinese stars and basing part of the action in Chinese cities. While this interested many local movie goers, some criticized its numerous product placements, including Chinese liquor and milk.

A commentary in the Beijing Times on Monday said Hollywood movies do not have to "flatter" Chinese viewers and audiences would rather watch an "interesting story than various sorts of product placements."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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