Thursday, June 04, 2009

Michael Bay Talks Money with Forbes

In an article with Forbes, the director discusses working on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the pile of cash his movies generate, and his ball busting directing style (which I can't say I disagree with as Hollywood coddles too much). Bay is also a shrewd business man as he gets 1/3 of the profits from Transformers films and 8% from the toys. Snippets below, full article here. Thanks to Ali for the link.
"Fire in the hole!" An explosion goes off next to a crumbling house. Bay grins approvingly and darts to some fake rocks where stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox are cowering in the face of yet another attack by robots from outer space. Over the course of the day Bay will film 63 shots, three times as many as on most sets. "I hear stories about directors waiting eight hours to shoot," says Bay. "How can your game plan be so screwed up? If I ran a studio, I'd fire your ass."

As well known for his blowups on the set as he is for explosions on the screen, Bay has made his share of enemies. One actor who worked as an extra on Pearl Harbor recalls how Bay accused another actor of thinking the attack on Pearl Harbor was funny when someone laughed after hours of sitting for a take. An executive says Bay got so enraged at an extra on the set of Transformers that he made him stand in a corner. Actress Kate Beckinsale told reporters Bay made her feel ugly on the set of Pearl Harbor. (Not true, says Bay. He asked her to work out more.) Bay is known for sometimes clashing with stars on the set, such as Bruce Willis in the 1998 film Armageddon. "He has a tendency to try to be a director and change actors' lines," says Bay. "I don't think Bruce liked that I had a pair of balls." He takes a similarly defensive stand toward the critics who have called his films "vile," "brain dead" and "pandering."

But audiences love him. Bay's seven movies have pulled in $2.6 billion at the box office, putting him in the same league with James Cameron ($3 billion, including Titanic, the highest-grossing film ever, at $1.8 billion). That means something at a time when the movie business is going through its own action thriller, as studios run low on capital and people stop buying DVDs. (Although theaters keep half of ticket sales, the gross amount is a good proxy for the movie owner's total revenue, which includes DVDs and other money streams.) [ROTF should put Bay on top then at least until Avatar comes out around Christmas time - TFLive]

Bay brings his movies in on time and on budget, a rarity in Hollywood. Because his pay is largely based on the film's profits (usually one-third of the take after the studio recoups its production and advertising costs), he's got plenty of incentive to rein in expenses. "Michael makes me look good because he counts every penny," says Jerry Bruckheimer, who has produced five of Bay's films.

The new Transformers movie (the second full-length feature in the series) cost $195 million to make. But Bay estimates it would have cost $10 million more if he hadn't partnered with General Motors and the U.S. military to get free cars, helicopters and battleships. By keeping the budget (relatively) low on the first Transformers flick, in 2007, he was able to increase his share of the movie's $708 million worldwide gross, earning $80 million from the film. So what if those product placements make his movies look like long commercials? "People say it's whoring out, but it's not," says Bay, 44. "Advertising is in our lives. It's unavoidable. To think you can't have it in a movie isn't real life."


  1. Money over quality it is not art it is a business
    So if money equals quality.. Titanic is the best movie ever i didn't know that.

  2. On a totally different subject. After searching the net for the better part of the day, Im starting to come to the conclusion that Long Haul, Mixmaster and Rampage are Constructicons, Obviously. However they are not going to be the Cons that form Devastator. They all come from the ship that Soundwave was on, which in turn holds the Fallen and was sent out to locate the the Sun Harvester. My guess is that since these guys are on the ship which was sent to find the harvester, they all or most of them have the ability to make up Devastator. In the MTV spot we see Long Haul and that yellow Con hunting Sam, when at that time they should be getting ready to form Devastator. Maybe im completely off, but I don't think so. It even explains that red bot that BB is fighting and the whole Scavenger/Demolisher thing. There are only so many types of constructions vehicles on earth, but a lot of decepticons. It makes sense that some would be forced to have the same alt mode.

  3. "audiences love him" i dont think so although some people might say money talks but just because you buy into a product does not mean you like bay it just means you go to escape real life for a moment and there might not be anything else and transformers was famous before bay was famous, so, bay should think transformers for his fame.

  4. Bay is good at a certain type of directing however he is slowly ruining the soul of TF. Although it is now a bit more like the originals every scene has something exploding and although it was cool at the start it has now become dull and repetitive.

  5. I'm not the biggest Bay fan but I've seen most of his movies in the theater I must admit and I've never come away disappointed. You just have to realize that he's not high art.

    I am really convinced that nobody would have made Transformers as effectively as Bay did. He really found the right balance between staying faithful to the original, changing it up enough to bring in new fans and making it silly and exciting enough to entertain the little ones, who are probably the most important audience for the property itself because of the toy sales.

  6. I <3 Michael Bay. I love a director who puts those self righteous spoiled actors in their places. Get to work you gits. Time is honeys.


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