Chinese Actress Li Bingbing Joins ‘Transformers 4’

Li's casting in the Michael Bay sequel is another acknowledgement of the region's growing importance to Hollywood

Chinese actress Li Bingbing has joined the cast of "Transformers 4," Paramount Pictures said Monday.

She will co-star in the sequel along with Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and Jack Reynor. Michael Bay will once again direct and orchestrate the fireballs and global mayhem.

Li has previously appeared in "Resident Evil: Retribution" and "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan."

Li's casting and the decision by Paramount to film parts of the fourth installment in its mega-grossing franchise in China is an acknowledgement of the region's growing importance to Hollywood. Last year, China passed Japan to become the second-largest market for movies.

The country contributed $2.7 billion to the global box office in 2012, a 36 percent jump from the previous year. It will continue to be a leading source of profits now that China has loosened restrictions on the number of foreign films that can be shown in its theaters.

To help strengthen ties and broaden a film's appeal, blockbusters such as "Iron Man 3" have shot in China or cast actors in key parts.

Studios are also interested in Chinese financing. Paramount announced this past April that it will partner with two Chinese companies, China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises, on "Transformers 4."  Under the agreement, the partners will pair up on theatrical promotion, possible post-production activities in China and the casting of Chinese actors and actresses in the film.

Paramount Pictures will release the film on June 27, 2014.