transformers live attraction

If you ever watched the Transformers movies and thought “You know, this would be better if all of this mayhem was actually happening right in front of me in real life,” you may be in luck. A live Transformers show, appropriately titled Transformers Live is in the works. There’s only one hitch that will render it a little inaccessible for a certain portion of the franchise’s fandom – this show is putting down roots in China. In other words, time to look deep into that pile of loose change you were hoarding for that Shanghai Disneyland trip and wonder if you can afford an additional evening of mayhem on your upcoming Chinese vacation.

The news of Transformers Live was announced at a press conference in Beijing yesterday, which was attended by local VIPs and an 11-foot tall Optimus Prime, who predictably declined to comment because he’s a big movie star now and doesn’t care about his fans anymore. Typical. Anyway, Variety has the details: Transformers Live will be housed in a brand new 4,500 seat theater that will likely be built in Beijing (although other cities are still a possibility) and the show will feature “shape-shifting robots, aerial stunts and large-scale special effects.”

Transformers Live is being spearheaded by DMG Entertainment, the Chinese media company who has also had a hand in several Hollywood movies that have filmed in China, including Looper and Iron Man 3. Although this whole endeavor is the result of a deal between DMG and Hasbro, the actual show is being assembled by S2BN Entertainment’s Michael Cohl, the famed concert promoter who was also one of the lead producers on Broadway’s late Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Here’s Cohl describing Transformers Live:

“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. The [Transformers Live] show will offer a fusion of proprietary technologies including robotics and advanced projection capabilities along with amazing aerial and acrobatic sequences.”

Although there’s definitely a chance that Transformers Live will be an impressive show filled with amazing effects that bring the Transformers universe to life in an astonishing way, all I can think about is that Marvel Universe Live show that toured a few years ago and its…less-than-impressive execution. Live stunt shows can be impressive, but they’re theater at heart – some subject matter is probably best left to movie screens. Imagine traveling to Beijing to watch this show, only for the entire cast of giant robots to awkwardly lumber around the stage like the Hulk in the video below.

The Transformers are already the subject of one seriously impressive attraction, Transformers: The Ride 3D, which is located at Universal Studios Florida, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Universal Studios Singapore. This wild attraction, which combines a moving ride vehicle, motion simulator technology, 3D projection and “4D” effects captures the chaos of Michael Bay’s film series by thrusting you, literally, into the action.

Transformers Live will certainly be a different beast, but I still have no idea what it will look like or if it will escape the curse that has plagued so many geek-friendly theatrical attractions (even that Spider-Man musical was an expensive debacle better known for injuring its actors than anything else). The only thing we can say for sure is that this is just another example of how the Chinese market is radically shifting how and where entertainment is consumed. Ambitious stunt shows starring men in robot costumes used to be the domain of the United States – now they belong to the world.

Expect this show to be ready to go by the time Transformers 5 is arriving in theaters.

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