Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fourth 'Transformers' film to shoot in Texas in June

My report appears in today's Dallas Morning News. It's behind a pay wall, so here it is in its entirety for you.

Special to The Dallas Morning News

Michael Bay’s fourth big-budget Transformers film will shoot in the Austin area in June, bringing with it requisite car chases, robots and plenty of explosions.

The Austin Film Commission confirmed 3-4 weeks of filming in the small towns of Lockhart, Taylor, Elgin and Pflugerville. 
A Taylor bridge over the railroad awaits a robot siege.

A large Austin production office opened in March, but location scouting dates back to last November. There was initial interest in the Circuit of the Americas racetrack southeast of Austin, but instead the Austin Film Commission says the focus is on small towns that reminded Bay of Robert Frank’s 1950s photos collected in the classic book The Americans.

In Taylor, 30 minutes from Austin, a police chase will close downtown and a railroad overpass, said Deby Lannen, the city’s Main Street program manager. A car will be exploded in the city’s Robinson Park. “It’s pretty exciting,” she said.

“I know there will be things exploded in Taylor for sure. Some will be physical effects, some CGI,” said Gary Bond, head of the Austin Film Commission.

Lockhart’s Caldwell County Courthouse square will be another filming location, with Taylor and Lockhart combined into one fiction town on screen. Robots will chase down the good guys throughout Central Texas including in Elgin.

The bulk of the untitled movie is expected to lens overseas in China, where a reality television show will cast some roles. According to the web site ReelChicago, shooting will begin in Chicago in July, presumably after Texas filming ends. The Detroit Free-Press in March reported approval of $20 million in filming incentives on $81.9 million in anticipated spending there.

The first three Transformers films grossed $2.6 billion worldwide with the budget for the last two both in the $200 million range. 

No plot has been released for the film, but Mark Wahlberg will star along with Jack Reynor and Nicola Peltz. Wahlberg’s good-guy character’s home will be a farmhouse in Pflugerville. Bay has previously said the film will take a different direction with many new actors.

Bay's production company Platinum Dunes has a history of filming in Central Texas, including 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its 2006 sequel, plus 2007's The Hitcher

The latest Transformers film is set for release in June 2014.