Chinese heartthrob Han Geng has been cast alongside Chinese starlet Li Bingbing in the fourth installment of Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise. The news was announced yesterday by the film’s Chinese co-producer, China Movie Channel, and later confirmed on Bay’s website.
Bay had this to say of Han: “He's one of Asia's top stars in the worlds of music, television and movies and has become one of the most influential entertainers in China…Welcome Han Geng to the cast of Transformers 4.”
Han, 29, is a former member of the K-Pop group Super Junior – which also made him a star in South Korea – who began to pursue a solo career in 2009. The decision to break off on his own led him to win the Worldwide Act award at the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards. Alongside his music career, Han has starred in numerous televised dramas and films in China, including the mainland blockbuster So Young, which earned $117 million at the domestic box office.
Han’s role in Transformers 4, which will also star Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer, has not yet been unveiled, but a report on Sohu.com suggested that his role will be included in the international version of the film.
By contrast, when Chinese starlet Fan Bingbing was cast in Iron Man 3 the parts of the film that featured her were only presented to Chinese audiences. This move will likely help the film exert even more pull in the China market, increasingly a determinant of Hollywood’s success. The film will be shot partly in the U.S. and China.
The third installment of the series, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, is the world’s fifth highest grossing film to date, raking in $1.12 billion. Moreover, the first three installments of the series are among the most popular foreign films to ever hit the silver screen in China, where Dark of the Moon pulled in $165 million in 2011.
According to Jiaflix Enterprises president Marc Ganis, China will be such a major presence in Transformers 4 that the country will “effectively (be) a character in the film”.
Paramount Pictures will release the next installment of Bay’s megahit series in U.S. theaters on June 27, 2014.
Editor's note: The text has been updated from the original version.