Michael Bay's new film to hit Chinese cinemas

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, April 22, 2022
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Following the success of "Transformers" franchise, director Michael Bay's new action-thriller film "Ambulance" hopes to find similar popularity when it hits Chinese cinemas this weekend.

Actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II greet the audience at Michael Bay's "Ambulance" premiere in Beijing via a pre-recorded video, April 19, 2022. [Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures]

The film, a remake based on the 2005 Danish film of the same name by Laurits Munch-Petersen and Lars Andreas Pedersen, stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Eiza González and follows two adoptive siblings turned bank robbers who hijack an ambulance and take two first responders hostage.

The film is packed with high-octane action and gunfights, sticking close to Bay's explosion-heavy fare and using plot elements that mirror "Speed" (1994) and "Bad Boys" (1995). The director has said that he did not watch or read the screenplay of the original Danish film because he wanted to make the film his own. 

The film is the result of rapid project that began in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic in Los Angeles canceled Bay's plans to shoot his next film "Black Five." Tired of being locked up at home, he pitched an idea to Donna Langley, chairperson of Universal Pictures, and said he wanted to direct a "small" film focusing on the tension between characters trapped in a claustrophobic setting. "Ambulance," therefore, could be shot on a relatively low budget and in a short period of time, which suited his needs. The film was shot on a $40 million budget in downtown Los Angeles, wrapping after 38 days.

The installation and decoration at a cinema in Beijing where Michael Bay's "Ambulance" held its China premiere, April 19, 2022. [Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures]

The cast and crew had to follow safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as wearing masks on set. The production borrowed a total of six ambulances from Falck, a global market leader in emergency response and healthcare services. Parts of the film were shot using First Person View drones by LightCraft, and were flown by Drone Racing League pilots Jordan Temkin and Alex Vanover using head-mounted displays. 

Bay's last film to hit China was "Transformers: The Last Knight" in 2017, making 1.55 billion yuan. 

"Ambulance" received rave reviews after its premiere in Beijing on April 19. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 68% of 208 critics gave the film a positive review. 

It will be released in China nationwide on April 22 amid the COVID-19 resurgence as more than half of Chinese cinemas are closed. Prior to it hitting the Chinese market, the film has already grossed $41.6 million worldwide as of April 19, 2022.

Chinese posters of "Jurassic World: Dominion," "The Bad Guys," "Marry Me," and "Downton Abbey: A New Era," will be imported and distributed in China by Universal Pictures. [Picture courtesy of Universal Pictures]

Besides "Ambulance," Universal Pictures will also import a slew of new films to the Chinese market. Previously, "The Bad Guys" was announced to be released on April 29. On Thursday, it was announced "Marry Me" and "Downton Abbey: A New Era" will be released in China on May 13 and May 20, respectively. Finally, the juggernaut sequel "Jurassic World: Dominion" will also come to China, though no release date has so far been set. 

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