Sure, you may be critical and dismissive when it comes to Michael Bay's Transformers films, but Chinese viewers certainly don't seem to be.
Hollywood pundits and box-office experts have known for a while now that China is a place where American blockbusters can earn some serious cash, and many films have certainly proven them right. Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim made more in China than it did in the United States, and that film's now getting a sequel thanks in no small part to its international box-office success (it earned more than three times its U.S. haul at the foreign box office). Marvel's Iron Man 3 also did well in China, earning more than $100 million there on its way to a box-office total that surpassed $1 billion. China is a box-office force that's here to stay, and Transformers: Age of Extinction just made that fact clearer than ever.
Just 10 days after it hit Chinese cinemas, Age of Extinction is now the highest-grossing film in Chinese history. The film has now grossed $221 million in that country -- nearly $50 million more than what it's made in the U.S. so far -- easily topping the record of $217.7 million set by James Cameron's Avatar, which remains the highest-grossing film in box-office history. As Entertainment Weekly notes, Bay and company actively courted Chinese audiences with the film by shooting in Shanghai and Hong Kong, casting Chinese co-stars, partnering with a Chinese production company and even launching a reality competition series in China in which competitors could earn small roles in the film. That courtship has paid off in a big way, and it's likely to influence future blockbusters.
Age of Extinction isn't the first film to make such overtures to a Chinese audience -- Iron Man 3 touted its own joint production deal in 2012 -- but it will definitely be far from the last as the Chinese market for American blockbusters keeps growing. At this point, China is the second-largest movie market in the world, and according to The Los Angeles Times, it could be bigger than the U.S. market by 2018 if it keeps growing at this rate. So don't be surprised to see more of our biggest franchises courting Chinese audiences in the very near future.