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DMG to Launch ‘Transformers Live’ Attraction in China (EXCLUSIVE)

Hasbro’s iconic “Transformers” are poised to become a major live entertainment attraction in China next year.

A custom-built theater seating 4,500 will host a live show combining shape-shifting robots, aerial stunts and large-scale special effects.

The attraction is the first to be developed by DMG Live, the new live entertainment arm of DMG Entertainment, which is headed by entrepreneur Dan Mintz. It follows a deal between DMG and Hasbro for the rights and with Michael Cohl’s S2BN Entertainment to develop the attraction.

DMG, Hasbro and S2BN jointly announced the plans Tuesday afternoon at a lavish launch ceremony at Beijing’s Shangri-la Hotel, complete with hundreds of local press, VIPs and an 11 foot Optimus Prime robot in attendance.

The semi-permanent venue for ‘Transformers Live’ is expected to be located near Beijing, though DMG Live is still considering options in other ‘tier 1’ cities, usually taken to mean Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

“’Transformers Live’ will be a cross between an action-adventure spectacle, a theme park attraction and a theatrical show. Fans will experience intense action, beautiful visual moments, an emotionally engaging story, lots of humor and rousing music,” said Cohl, who has won multiple Tony-, and Emmy-awards. “The [‘Transformers Live’] show will offer a fusion of proprietary technologies including robotics and advanced projection capabilities along with amazing aerial and acrobatic sequences.”

“The ‘Transformers Live’ show will appeal to the wide-eyed child in all of us who love big robots, insane action and incredible special effects,” said Mintz, CEO of DMG Entertainment. DMG Entertainment is a privately-owned U.S. company. It shares the DMG brand with DMG Yinji, a publicly-listed Chinese company. DMG Entertainment is currently bidding some $600 million to acquire majority control of Taiwan cable TV group Eastern Broadcasting Corporation. Mintz has film industry credits that include “Iron Man 3,” Looper” and the recent “Point Break” remake.

Cohl has produced shows including: “An Evening with Oprah,” “The Marvel Experience,” and” Alvin and The Chipmunks.”

DMG Live is expected to strike similar, partnerships for several of the other properties that it licenses or owns. These include some Marvel concepts and the Mini Marilyn, cartoon version of Marilyn Monroe, that it unveiled last year. Some of these attractions are expected to be akin to Universal’s ‘City Walk’ concept, combining stages, rides, retail and hotels. They will likely be sited in other major conurbations around China.

The “Transformers” concept was launched in 1984 as a series of comic books and toys. They have since expanded into TV series and a franchise of four movies directed by Michael Bay. The “Transformers” movies have earned some $3.8 billion globally for Paramount, the studio distributor. They have done particularly well in China, where “Age of Extinction” was partly filmed, before clocking up $300 million at the Chinese box office.

DMG says that “Transformers Live” will be only the second major location-based attraction to open in mainland China (after Shanghai Disneyland which is to open in June this year) that is based on “beloved international characters.” Most other parks that have opened to date are either ride-based or feature characters and other IP from mythology and none license internationally recognized content from Hollywood.

There are currently some 300 theme parks in China. Their scale is now growing rapidly as the major international groups including Disney, DreamWorks and Universal, as well as local operators including Wanda and Huayi Brothers, are all now building multi-billion dollar ventures, squarely aimed at China’s expanding and affluent middle class. Another U.S. park operator, Six Flags announced last week that it had broken ground on a new park to open in 2019 near Beijing.

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