Transformers director Michael Bay participated in a press conference at the Four Seasons hotel in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 16 and we’ve got the full rundown of what the helmer said about the big screen adaptation:
Q: I know my colleagues are going to have “Transformers” questions, but I wanted to know your reaction to “Hot Fuzz” which was so inspired by “Bad Boys 2,” and that you said that you were offered “Die Hard 4” and I was wondering if this hadn’t come together would you have considered doing that?
Bay: “Die Hard 4,” no, I don’t think so. “Hot Fuzz,” I haven’t seen it yet, because I was finishing this movie. It’s really hard, the end of your post schedule is such a grind, seeing a movie is like the last thing you want to do when you go home. I thought this would be an easy post, on our budget we had a hiatus scheduled in here, because I said, “Oh, my God, I have the longest post schedule,” I didn’t think the robots would be that hard, but I was directing them all the way to the very end.
Q: How did you balance the needs of your vision as a filmmaker with those of Spielberg and those of the fans? I noticed that there are definitely some Spielberg elements to this film.
Bay: Listen, I make my own movie, I don’t have someone tell me what to do. I’ve always been inspired by Steven. I was not a Transformers fan before I signed on to this movie. I think I was two years older when the toys came out, so I just discovered girls then instead of Optimus Prime. But I quickly became after I went to Hasbro, where you heard about that Transformers school? I really thought, “What the f*ck am I going to Hasbro for Transformers school? I thought I was going to learn how to fold up robots, but I met with the CEO and I went through the whole Transformer lore. I’ve been offered a lot of superhero movies before and nothing’s really appealed to me and in the room, because I’ve been such a fan of Japanese anime it just hit me that if I make this really real it could be something very new and different. So I quickly became probably one of the bigger Transformer fans in the world, and I tried to make this movie for non-Transformer fans, okay, and I wanted it to be a little bit more, if you could say, adult, so I’m sure I’m going to get flack for â€“ you made an edgy movie on a toy, how is that going to affect kids? I know there are Transformer fans that are 40 years old. Now that I’m rambling…
Q: One thing I kept hearing from this movie, from the actors is what a great actor’s director Michael Bay is, which is a whole new theme we haven’t heard before, did you do something different?
Bay: No, listen, the sound byte â€“ press is very weird, because a sound byte gets out there, Michael Bay yells. Listen, I am very similar, I visited Jim Cameron on “Titanic,” I’m very similar the way he directs, he’s an assistant director, I’m an assistant director of my own sets, I move my own sets, I shoot very fast, I never leave the set, and I love working with actors, I love giving actors freedom, I love improv-ing with actors, it freaks studios out because they’re like, “That wasn’t in the script, what’s this, he’s wrecking the movie.” And I’m like, “Trust me, it’s going to be funny,” because there’s a whole issue of tone in this movie. But when I’m doing action scenes I’m going to be your worst nightmare basketball coach, that’s to get the energy, the adrenalin going.
Q: How much of what we see is improvised and what about the “Armageddon” joke?
Bay: Well, that’s just me, I’m like, okay, this kid is so funny running I’m like, “Dude, you’ve got say this.” He’s just funny. You guys all laughed, right? I’ll often add jokes along the way. A perfect example, because I will always hire actors that have a good improv skill, like Nic Cage in “The Rock,” there was really nothing funny in “The Rock” script, and that was all through improv, just trying to work with the guys and try to make it funny. A good example in this scene was when the parents knocked on the door of the bedroom when he’s hiding the robots, in the script it said, “Maybe he’s mas â€¦,” and that was the joke, and that’s pretty lame. So we actually brought him in the room and we just started this whole masturbation talk, and that’s because the mom’s such an amazing New York â€“ she’s in New York plays.
Q: She just won the Tony Award.
Bay: Did she really?
Q: Best Actress in a Play, beat Angela Lansbury and Vanessa Redgrave. Julie White.
Bay: I know it’s Julie White (everyone laughs)
Q: I believe it was Don Murphy said you had no nostalgia for these Transformers â€“ does that make it easier to make the film, like a doctor operating on a stranger versus a friend?
Bay: Listen, I’m a huge Transformer fan now, I can officially say I’ve probably thought more about robots on earth than anyone in the past year and a half. Yeah, I actually think that because I wasn’t a fan I think makes it more accessible to other people, does that make sense? Megatron was a gun, and I’m like, “I don’t get that,” and I did get a lot of flak from fans on the net, like, “Michael Bay, you wrecked my childhood.” “Michael Bay, you suck. We’re going to protest his office.” They protested my old office apparently. That’s true. The death threats freak me up, but I think we’ve â€“ I would listen to fans on the net, I really would. I would kind of hear their comments, but I’m still going to make my movie and I’ll still put flames on Optimus.
Q: That helped because when they were fighting I knew it was Optimus?
Bay: You see. Thank you.
Q: But you gave them lips.
Bay: Well, because, you know we did a lot of facial studies, and emotion is so hard without that kind of movement. We tried it solid, it just didn’t look right.
Q: There’s talk that they’re hoping to get “Transformers 2” if this one is a success, as everyone’s assuming it’s going to be, sometime next year but aren’t you going to be busy with “Prince of Persia”?
Bay: I don’t know, I leave my negotiation open, because the President of Paramount is right behind you. He could probably kill me. I don’t know what I’m doing right now. There’s no script right now.
Q: But you are directing “Prince of Persia”?
Bay: I don’t know, I don’t, I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I really don’t know what I’m doing. I’m unemployed right now. I finished the movie like a week ago.
Q: You mentioned the tone of the film, I was wondering how you managed to balance between what seems to be a somewhat normal recognizable action film with the Transformers.
Bay: When Steven called me a year and a half ago, he said I want you do direct “Transformers,” it’s a story about a boy who buys his first car. To me that was a great hook. I hung up and said thank you, I’m not doing that stupid, silly toy movie, but I thought about it, the hook was great because that’s such a launching ground from a young adult into manhood or womanhood. I liked the simplicity of it, okay, it just made it somewhat more accessible. If you notice, I shot this movie kind of generic, I’ve never in my life shot at a Burger King, or a guy riding on a pink bicycle, or a house that’s kind of very suburbia. But it just makes it more acceptable and accessible to the ultra-slick uber-action around it. The charm of the movie is to me in thinking about it was â€“ I kept having this image of this kid trying to hide robots from his parents by his house, and that just stuck in my head as we were writing the script, so to me that was the whole charm of it. I don’t think I even answered your question.
Q: Can you talk a little about the casting of Shia and also what you see is the underlying theme or message, if there is one, in this movie?
Bay: Well, the underlying theme to me is really no sacrifice, no victory. That was something I wanted to nail. My movies often deal with the hero arch-type and the boy becoming a man, kind of like Nic Cage becoming a hero in “The Rock.” Shia, the same thing, when he got to carry that cube… Your first question was, casting Shia. It’s very scary when you’re trying to hinge a whole movie on a kid. I had seen him in â€“ I had only seen one of his movies, “Constantine,” and I thought he’s interesting, but he looks so old. And someone said, Ian Bryce, one of my producers, said, “You should look at this kid, Shia.” And I’m like, “Okay.” And he was coming in, I saw some of his other movies and I really liked him, and then I talked to Steven, I said, “I’m seeing Shia,” and he goes, “Oh yeah, he’s great. I love Shia.” And he came in for the audition and he nailed it, and I liked his improv skill, I liked how he was very able to take direction and mold, and he was kind of â€“ I didn’t want the geek, what I like about Shia when â€“ I think every guy’s been in that circumstance by the pond or the lake, where the stud comes up to you and gives you sh*t, and instead of doing â€“ he comes right back with wit and humor, and every guy likes him right then and there I think. Do you guys think so? I don’t think there’s a kid today that could have done a better job. He’s a pain in the ass to work with, let me tell you. Let me tell you a funny story. I always like to put my actors in real circumstances, and we had him â€“ there was a 17 story building downtown with a statue and my producer said, “How do you want to shoot that?” He goes, “We’re going to do a blue screen, right?” I said, “Nah, f*ck, we’re going to put him up there.” (he laughs) And we put him on wires and we rigged it very safe, but there was only four inches to stand on and Shia is like, “Yeah, I think I can do it, I’m gonna go up there, I’m gonna go up there.” So we’re ready to go and he goes, and mind you I would never go out there on my own, I would never do this, but he goes, “Oh man, I can’t get up there, I can’t get up there.” I said, “Dude, you’re going to embarrass yourself in front of the whole crew. You get paid way more than those kids on “Fear Factor,” get the f*ck up there.” (everyone laughs) So he did it, and it was really scary, but he was on cloud nine when he did it.
Q: Do you ever foresee a time where you might want to do an intimate low budget character study?
Bay: No, I’ve got this one I keep trying to do it, called “Pain and Gain.” It’s a really funny character story, I keep talking about it, we’re going to be here next year and we’ll talk about it again, I just keep getting cash to do these big movies. Sometimes it’s a fear of like are big movies going to go away? You know what I’m saying? Hollywood is kind of tough right now, so I don’t know.
Q: What’s it about?
Bay: It’s about â€“ it’s very “Pulp Fiction”-y, true story, it’s about these knuckleheads that kidnap and murder, searching for the American dream in all the wrong ways. It’s very funny. All true.
Q: We’ve seen how James Cameron went from huge physical action movies to 3D films â€“ can you ever see yourself moving in that direction?
Bay: Honestly, I think I’d want to shoot myself working on a blue screen stage. I did maybe one, two days of blue screen on this movie, I just hate it. It’s just I like doing things real and it’s just â€“ it’s really hard to go there, you know?
Q: Did 9/11 change the way you make action movies â€“ I kept thinking of 9/11 with the plane going through the building â€“ did that enter your mind at any point?
Bay: Are you kidding lady? That’s a silly question. Of course it, of course it entered my mind. I don’t even want to go there. Let’s go onto the next question.
Q: I liked the women in this, they weren’t just hot babes, they were brainy, how conscious were you trying to appeal to a female audience, and were Josh and Tyrese chosen for being eye-candy.
Bay: I actually met with Josh for one of my Platinum Dunes movies and I really liked him. Got a sense of him in the room there, that was like four months prior, and this thing came up and it was a very efficient budget, I honestly didn’t â€“ I had no money for stars, so I had to be very creative in picking people that I thought were going to break, and after meeting him I really liked him so I wanted to work with him.
Q: And Julie White’s character was great too, they’re great women in this movie.
Bay: Awesome. She didn’t have that many lines in the movie and I just kept â€“ Kevin and her were just funny, we just kept doing stuff. I just love his blue collar sensibility and I’ve always wanted to do that joke with the grass, that’s my lawyer, he does that to his kids, he doesn’t let them go on the grass.
Q: So you were thinking about your female audience?
Bay: Of course, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Q: As a filmmaker you seem to get more of your budget on screen than almost anyone else. You get $150 million it looks like $250 million â€“ what’s your secret?
Bay: My secret is, I shoot very, very fast. An average director will shoot 20 set ups a day, I do about 75, and they’re real set ups, it’s not like â€“ we work 12 hour days, I don’t go overtime, but we work very hard, I work with my same crew, I gave 30% of my fee because they were going to ship me to Canada or Australia, and I said, “No, I want to shoot with my guys.” It’s a team that I’ve worked with for close to 16 years, and it’s just â€“ I like to keep the movies in Los Angeles if I could, and especially keep them in the States, and the money â€“ we just saved so much money, because I have really good people. I don’t know, we just make an efficient day. I think music videos give me a sense of â€“ I’m able to shoot fast and when the sh*t hits the fan, which it always does on a movie, you’ve got to figure out your plan A and B, and I do this system called leapfrog. Like I said, the whole A.D. thing that gets out there, Michael Bay yells, Michael Bay’s being the assistant director, okay, three shots, we’re doing this, I want you to prep that, so we’re leapfrogging, we’re almost ready for the next shot. It’s almost hard, actors don’t even go back to their trailers, if you’ve probably already heard. “Tyrese, put your clothes back on.” He would always take his clothes off. And that’s a lot of stuff to put back on.
Q: I enjoyed the movie and think you have a big smash on your hands.
Bay: We don’t trust the movie gods, you know.
Q: How did you guys arrive at the tone of the film?
Bay: I think it was just my gut, I knew it’s Transformers, you can’t take it too seriously, but you wanted to give that sense of realism. That’s why the military involvement was very important, that we make it very real and credible. Like those guys in the AWAC those are all the real guys. I told them, this is what’s going down on the ground, what would you say? And literally within two minutes they were, “dah, dah, dah, dah, dah,” I just photographed what they said. So I think you mix the realism with Tyrese being in the worst situation, and he says, “Man, if you could see this sh*t,” that sounds real, but it comes in a funny way. I made little jabs here and there like, that’s way too smart for Iranians scientists, or, how much do you get bugged by these outsourcing calls, you know, the calls out there. It just bugs me. When I forget to pay my AT&T bill, I get a call, “Mr. Bay,” and they’re calling from Bombay, and I’m like, “I didn’t pay it.” (feigns hanging up the phone). Anyway.
Q: Tyrese made a joke that he was running and dodging cars and everything and then he had to say a joke. As a director, you somehow manage to get real emotion in an action film. What is more important for you and is there a balance you are seeking?
Bay: Yeah, you want it to feel real. What I try to do, especially when actors are doing action stuff â€“ the crew jokes â€“ Ian, don’t you call it “Bayos”?
Ian Bryce: Yeah. Bayos is one of them.
Bay: Try to have a little bit of chaos. It’s very organized, but you get them a little fritzed, y’know? Because it just gives them more adrenaline. It’s a little bit of the unknown and they will have a lot of loud bombs and stuff like that on the set if that’s what it calls for. And I like to see the real emotion when they are inside these action scenes.
Q: So what’s more important to you? Is it story or action?
Bay: No, it’s both. It’s a balance. It’s both.
Q: You are your own AD is that because of the scale of the project or because you can’t find the people who work at the pace you want to?
Bay: I just love it. I dunno, it’s just my thing. It keeps me interested. My thing is I will get to set usually 45 minutes after everyone is there, because I don’t like people â€“ watching them eat burritos and their eggs? I want to go to work. It’s like, so, they always go on the radio, “Bay’s coming in hot. He’s coming in hot.” (Laughs.) It just keeps me really involved. That’s my thing, I dunno. That’s the creative things for me.
Q: What was going through your head last night at that first screening?
Bay: We’ll I’ve got to apologize, the print was way oversaturated. Way too much color. Way too much red, so I was having a freak-out on that. We are trying to figure out what the problem was. Bad projector or something. But, I thought it was fun. I said, I mean, when I said, “You guys are the first in the United States to see this,” it was true.
Q: Was it loud enough for you?
Bay: Yeah, I turned it down. (Laughs.) I said, “Turn it down. Turn it down.”
Q: Is it always stressful watching it on the screen in front of people for the first time?
Bay: Yes, it is so nerve wracking. Do you want me to describe the testing process? Real quick. I do little focus groups on my own. I’ll take like 30 kids into a screening room. I’ll do like 9-year-olds to 15-year-olds, and I did like 16 year-olds to 25 year-olds and I have someone who has nothing to do with the movie come in and say, “You can say whatever you want about this movie.” I show it in rough form and they were great, because they will fill out little pages about what is confusing them, what lines they thought sucked. They are very blunt about it. And there was something where they hated Megan. She said one line and the women just turned off. And I’m like, “We’ve got to deal with that.” And then I get to the big test in Phoenix where we did 450 people. It was all families and I’m like “Ah, the kids are cute because they are applauding at different things.” “Oh, they all laughed at the masturbation thing and they are 9-years-old.” (Laughs.) “dunno. Must be younger now.” Ok, so then I went to the adult screening next store, introduced that. And I’m doing this little sound button thing and this guy sitting next to me goes, “What’s that?” “Oh, it’s just the sound.” “What do you do?” “Oh, I’m the director.” So the movie starts they were like laughing and applauding at certain things. And I’m thinking, “This sucks. This movie sucks. It’s a kiddie movie, alright?” And I said to the guy sitting next to me, “Do you like this type of movie?”And he goes, “Eh.” I’m like, “Ugh. It’s a kid movie. It’s a kid movie.” So all these emotions go through your head. And then we did a focus group. I ran out and we did a focus group with the kids and the parents in the focus group. 26 out of 26 gave it an excellent. I’m like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Our scores were gigantic. I’m like, “That’s O.K., because it’s a kids movie.” Then I went to the adult focus group and we got the same score. We got like a 95. And I was like, “That’s weird.” A lot of the older ladies, like 35, 40, they are like, “I didn’t want to come here. I didn’t want to see this. I was dragged here.” It’s true! This one lady goes, “This kinds of reinvents super heroes.” She said this great line. She goes, “We’re tired of the suits and the whatever. This is totally new and different.” Anyway, It’s still nerve-wracking, you know what I’m saying? That is a long boring answer.
Q: John Turturro said that he based a lot of his character on you. (Laughs.) Wondering what you guys discussed?
Bay: No, I was scared to work with John Turturro. I was like, “Oh, John.” He came out a little quirky. When he had that hat — that was the first day I worked with him â€“ at the dam. I said, “I don’t know about this. I dunno.” I dunno, I grew to really like working with John. I don’t know if he based it on me, but I do think criminals are hot by the way. No, I’m kidding. I dunno if he based it on me. He said that, but you should see his Scorsese imitation. It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.
Q: Michael, some of this movie plays like almost a recruiting vehicle for the military. Can you talk about all the military elements in the film that you said grounded the film more in reality?
Bay: Here’s the thing. You’ve got to have more than the external alien invasion. To make it credible, you have to have the military. I just don’t like when you see like an “Independence Day” and they don’t get military support and you’ve got like a few jeeps and you’ve got this and everything is kind of mismatched and it’s all digital planes and it’s like, it’s just not credible. So you need that reality so you can ground this little kids story. I had a good relationship with them on “Armageddon” and “Pearl.” And, so I somehow convinced them. This is the largest cooperation since “Black Hawk” and “Pearl” for them. And Linesfield Stroup, who is the liaison at the Pentagon, he’s like, “Well, y’know, if aliens do land, I mean the US military should be involved.” (Laughs.) And I’m like, “That’s appropriate.” So, but, I am always good at weaseling stuff that’s never been shot like the F22 and all that stuff. And I think they like me because I really respect the military. I respect the soldiers. The people, the men and women who really will sacrifice themselves. Those guys around Josh and Tyrese, they are all the real guys. They are all Special Ops SEALs and it’s fascinating. I’m just enamored by people who will really go to combat. It’s just a wild thing.
Q: A lot of equipment and ships and planes going.
Bay: If you look at the theme, “No sacrifice, no victory.” I think that’s how they see it. They just want to be treated credibly. They want it to be shown in a real light. If you are fighting Scorponok how would they do an air strike? So we literally show you how it happens?
Q: So are the guys in the movie retired?
Bay: No, those were guys who have either taken leave. Some of them were actually going to get called back to Iraq. And I mean, they all, this is the thing that happens to all of them. They get the Hollywood bug. We call one of them Hollywood. He trains U.S. SEALs down in Coronado and we’re like, “Dude, just go back to getting a SEAL.”
Q: Can you talk about GM and the introduction of the new Camero?
Bay: O.K., I mean, I had $145 million. I needed to find a car company that can give me a bunch of vehicles and save me three million bucks. And I opened it up to every car company. And I have a relationship with GM because I’ve done commercials with them and they have helped me out on my other movies by giving me flood damaged cars or cars that had to be destroyed. And they took me to Skunkworks, which is where they do the prototype cars, it’s a secret place somewhere. And I saw that car and I said, “That’s Bumblebee.” And, so, to help save $3 million and it was a great looking car.
Q: We heard there was a GM guy on set who wouldn’t let them touch the leather, but when he wasn’t around you raced the car through gravel at 145 miles per hour.
Bay: No. We did have the one prototype. The prototypes are really hard because they cost like $5 million to make. We made our own, we had the cab out there with a celine chasse, and we made it in like six weeks in Detroit really fast.
Q: How have you changed as a filmmaker over the past few years?
Bay: I’ve gotten older, crankier. No, I’m not cranky. No, I don’t. I don’t. I crack a lot of jokes. I tease people. A little bit.
Q: I mean, do you think this movie is different from your predecessors?
Bay: I mean, someone said to me in Australia, “Well, after ‘The Island’ did you want to go back to your more safe roots?” And I just thought this idea if it was done in a cool way could be a big idea and a fun movie idea. And a fun summer movie and I liked the challenge of taking something that hasn’t been done and trying to working with my team of artists for months, 8 months, 9 months and my digital effects companies, to try and create characters made out of thin air. And it was something really challenging for me. It’s like doing an animated movie. Working with animators is such a great process. And the end result, it’s like, you look at Bumblebee and it’s like there is a soul in this thing. That was a fun challenge for me.
Q: This scene in the back yard is so wonderful and so much of that is comic timing. How did you create that comic timing with the characters not ‘being’ there?
Bay: What I do is I do a series of animatics, which are crude cartoons. And a movie really comes to life, I mean working with the writers and creating the script, but it all starts with the concept drawings. That becomes the tone of the movie. I showed Steven a picture of Megatron in the hanger and he’s like, “Omigod, I love it. That’s the movie!” And I’m like, “I know.” And that’s how you get the tone. It’s like you build off of there. So, in the backyard we kept coming up with the beats and whatnot. I think the dog peeing was something we made up. That’s where we tied a little string to his leg and lifted it up to nothing is there and they added in the squirt. It’s just really good to work with someone like a Shia or a Megan where they can actually see a cartoon and they are looking at window washer poles, which is tough. And, you just keep doing it.
Q: Michael what directors do you like?
Bay: Oh, god. Everyone always asks me this question. It’s just, y’know, from Kubrick, I’ve always been a huge fan of the Coen Bros. “Raising Arizona” was such an instrumental movie in how I’ve done some of my commercials. Just that comic timing. A lot of people didn’t get that movie when it came out. From Steven to Cameron to Scorsese. When I was young, you’ve probably heard, I worked at Lucasfilm. And when I was 15 I was like a librarian and filed “Raiders of the Lost Ark” storyboards. It’s how I got interested in the business.
Q: When you were 10 or 8, who or what inspired you to believe in yourself to follow this idea that you could do something? Who was it and what did they tell you?
Bay: Who was it? I dunno. When I was young I wanted to be a vetinarian. And I remember raising money because they took me to a place where they gassed the dogs and the cats and I was like, “Omigod, I can’t believe this exists in the world.” I’ve had many different interests. I wanted to be a magician. So, I was inspired by that, but I realized there was no money in being a magician. So, I gave it up and I liquidated all my tricks to another competing group that was 12. (Laughs.)
Q: But you continued to dream. Who kept you going?
Bay: I think it was my parents, really. They kind of encouraged me to do art. I bought a camera when I was 13. I just loved taking pictures. So, it was really my parents. I mean my dad was an accountant and I remember, this is funny, when I was young I was a big baseball player, but I had this model train set and I would go into my world and make it very detailed Ho Gage train set. And I remember one summer I spent 8 months building the thing. Fully detailed and I’d go into my imaginary world. And my dad and mom came into the bedroom one day and they go, “Son, we think you need to get out more.” (Laughs.) So, that’s where I started imagining. I think the train sets are were I made my own little movies in my head.
Q: So you took it down the street for a walk and it worked.
Bay: We’ll see.
Q: If this film is a monster hit, are you willing to jump back into a sequel and what characters you’d like to bring to the franchise?
Bay: I mean I have some really cool things that I came up with for the first one that was just too expensive. Stuff that was really cool, but Steven was right, “No, we should pull back and not have as many robots so you can really focus more.” I mean I wish I really got to go into some of the faces more of some of the robots. But I really think it was Steven who said, “I think we should make it like 5 against 5 or 5 against 6.” Or something like that. So, it was good we scaled back a bit.
Q: But would you be willing to jump right back in to a sequel?
Bay: Maybe a little break. But, we have to come up with a good story first.
Q: You were talking about Tyrese earlier. You kept asking him to keep his clothes onâ€¦
Bay: He kept taking his underwear off in front of me. I don’t know what that was about. (Laughs.) No, I’m kidding.
Q: Can you talk about how he came to the film?
Bay: Tyrese â€“ I think he came on my set of “Bad Boys” when we were in Florida. And he just said to me, “I want to be in one of your movies one day.” And Martin Lawrence was like, “Yeah, you wait till you get in one of his movies you’ll f*ckin’ hate him.” No, I’m kidding. I’m kidding. And so, I dunno, I just thought about him when we were casting this and I thought it was a good idea to couple Josh with somebody. So, it kind of worked out. I guess I really didn’t answer that question.
Q: What was it about him that made you choose him?
Bay: Y’know, he’s got this great smile. He’s this sweet guy. There is something studly about him. I just thought he was accessible, y’know?
Q: The special effects guy said this was the first giant robot movie. Were you conscious about creating a new movie subgenre?
Bay: Well, let me tell you, these robots didn’t come out good at first. It was hard. It was not all peaches and cream at ILM. There were a lot of angry phone calls like, “We have to do better. We have to do better.” They thought they were settling on something and I was like, “Nope. This is unacceptable.” I just kept pushing them and pushing them and pushing them, but we came up with a really a good visual thing. I wanted them not to be clunky, lumbering robots. I looked at a lot of kung fu movies. I wanted them to have a different type of movement so I would just clip different things from different movies and I’d reference those to the animators on how they would move. What was your question again?
Q: Were you conscious of creating a new subgenre?
Bay: Yeah, because if they sucked, if they were horrible than the movie was doomed or is doomed. So, you’ve got a lot of pressure they’re trying to make it work. And you’ve got pressure from the fans saying “You wrecked our childhood” and all this about, complaining “We don’t like the look of them.” You just had to hold to your guns. You just had to, I just, y’know, the fans just wanted me to literally take these cartoons and blow them up. And it’s like literally the equivalent of “Ghostbusters” with the Marshmallow man. It just wouldn’t work. They needed to be much more complex the way they are. Y’know?
Q: You made a reference about being afraid big movies were going away?
Bay: I dunno. You know what it is? You do a movie and then you are unemployed, you know what I’m saying? So, it’s just like â€“ I dunno. It’s just. I think Hollywood’s got some stumbling blocks here and there. You hear where the business is going and there are not a lot of big movies that are made.
Q: It’s a big summer for the movie industry.
Bay: I know. That’s good. A lot of people are going to the movies.
Q: But you don’t think that’s going to continue?
Bay: Yes, it will. (Laughs.) It’s just good to think it will neverâ€¦
Transformers hits theaters on the evening of July 2nd.
Source: Superhero Hype!
Lionsgate has announced its first animated series, a new version of the 1960s animated “Speed Racer.” Variety says Nickelodeon’s 24-hour cartoon channel, Nicktoons, is on board to run the initial 26 episodes.
The new “Speed Racer” cartoon is set to launch next year, around the same time that Warner Bros.’ live-action Speed Racer, directed by the Wachowskis brothers, hits theaters.
The two properties aren’t related, although Katsumoto said he sees the theatrical “as a giant promotional vehicle for ‘Speed Racer’ the brand.”
Lionsgate has hired the New York-based Animation Collective (Nickelodeon’s “Kappa Mikey”) to help produce the new “Speed Racer.” Animation Collective CEO Larry Schwarz will executive produce, along with Speed Racer Enterprise principals John and James Rocknowski.
In the new franchise, young Speed Racer enters a racing academy for the fastest kids on Earth — and discovers that he’s the son of the legendary (and original series’) Speed Racer. He also finds out in the first few episodes that he has a brother — the new Racer X — whom he never knew existed.
Speed Racer wows the school with his Mach 6 (an updated version of the original show’s Mach 5) — the most advanced vehicle in the universe, which doesn’t run on gas. Speed and X team together to prevent villains from stealing the Mach 6 and to find out who’s behind the mysterious disappearance of their father.
Other characters returning include original Speed Racer’s younger brother Spritle, now headmaster of the racing academy. And chimpanzee Chim-Chim is now a mechanical robot.
Peter Fernandez, who voiced Speed Racer in the dubbed American version of the original “Speed Racer,” is aboard to voice Spritle.
Every three episodes of “Speed Racer” will operate together as a mini-movie but will also be divisible into a daily strip.
Marc Forster will direct the 22nd James Bond adventure, it was announced today by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, producers of the James Bond films, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.
Forster is the acclaimed director of the highly anticipated motion picture The Kite Runner, adapted from Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel. He also recently directed the comic hit Stranger Than Fiction for Sony Pictures. Previously, Forster directed the award-winning and critically acclaimed films Finding Neverland, which was nominated for seven Academy AwardsÂ® including Best Picture, and Monster’s Ball, for which Halle Berry won a Best Actress OscarÂ®.
Forster will commence work shortly with screenwriter Paul Haggis on a draft of the screenplay by Neil Purvis and Robert Wade.
Daniel Craig will reprise the role of James Bond in the as-yet-untitled Bond 22 production, which follows Casino Royale, the highest-grossing film so far in the most successful franchise in motion picture history.
With nearly $600 million in worldwide box-office receipts, Casino Royale was also regarded by critics as one of the best Bond films yet. Bond 22 will begin filming at Pinewood Studios, London, in December 2007. Columbia Pictures will release the film worldwide on November 7, 2008.
Wilson and Broccoli said, “We are delighted that Marc Forster, with his exceptional talent and unique vision, has agreed to direct our next James Bond film.”
Forster said, “I have always been drawn to different kinds of stories and I have also always been a Bond fan, so it is very exciting to take on this challenge. The new direction that the Bond character has taken offers a director a host of new possibilities and I look forward to working with Daniel Craig, Barbara Broccoli, and Michael Wilson, as well as the team at Sony and MGM on this new film.”
Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, added, “We had a great experience working with Marc on ‘Stranger than Fiction’ and we are excited to be working with him again. He’s an actor’s director; he approaches material with intelligence and taste. What makes him the perfect choice for ‘Bond 22’ is that he will bring to this film all the elements Bond audiences expect — action, humor, suspense, and thrills.”
“The Bond franchise is one of MGM’s most treasured legacies,” added Harry Sloan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, MGM. “We share Michael and Barbara’s confidence in Marc Forster’s directing talents and support him in his efforts to continue the evolution of the Bond story for today’s filmgoers.”
Source: Columbia Pictures
Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) announced today that it has named Mattel, Inc. as the global master toy licensee for both Speed Racer and The Dark Knight, two of the biggest summer films coming out in 2008 from Warner Bros. Pictures. Mattel will apply its expertise across virtually all product lines including vehicles, action figures, action play, remote control vehicles, handheld electronics as well as games and puzzles.
“In Mattel, we have the best partner with the strongest track record of bringing great products and great stories together for a winning combination in the toy aisle. With these deals, we know that two of our most important tentpole films for 2008, ‘Speed Racer’ and ‘The Dark Knight,’ will be brought to life through products created by the most creative toy designers in the world,” said Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.
“We have a strong, long-standing relationship with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and are thrilled to partner with them for two of the most anticipated films of 2008,” said Neil Friedman, President, Mattel Brands. “The distinctive visuals and stimulating races of ‘Speed Racer,’ coupled with one of the most popular super hero film franchises of all time in ‘The Dark Knight,’ provides us with a unique opportunity to create fun and innovative toys and games that bring the excitement and action of both films to life in a way that kids will love and remember.”
The green flag drops on May 9th when Speed Racer makes his big screen debut in the newest project from writer/directors Larry and Andy Wachowski, the creators of the groundbreaking “The Matrix” trilogy, and producer Joel Silver. A live-action, high-octane family adventure based on the classic series created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida, the big-screen Speed Racer will follow the adventures of the young race car driver Speed (Emile Hirsch) in his quest for glory in his thundering Mach 5. It will feature other characters that fans of the show will remember, including Mom (Susan Sarandon) and Pops Racer (John Goodman), girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci) and his mysterious arch-rival, Racer X (Matthew Fox).
“The Wachowski brothers said to me one day that they were always disturbed that their nieces and nephews could never see their movies. This was the first time all their friends, family and the kids in their lives could see one of their films. They wrote a pure family movie. It’s fun. It’s got great characters, great dialogue, and great stories,” said Silver.
Mattel will tap into the action, characters and storyline to bring the film to life across a broad number of their product lines. With Speed’s Mach 5 leading the way, the leading die-cast vehicle brand, Hot Wheels, will feature a wide assortment of die-cast vehicles, race sets and track sets based on the film. Tyco, the leading remote control vehicle brand, will put kids behind the wheel of the Mach 5 with R/C vehicles and racing sets. Radica, Mattel’s newly acquired games and electronics division, will put the action in the hands of kids through products that let them take the wheel, literally. Additionally, a line of Mattel games and puzzles will capture the film’s action through board games, puzzles and a special-edition UNO card game.
Speed Racer products are expected to begin arriving at retailers around the world beginning in late March 2008.
On July 18, 2008, The Dark Knight, the second Batman film from director Christopher Nolan, arrives in theaters. Batman (Christian Bale) raises the stakes in his war on crime in Nolan’s The Dark Knight. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker (Heath Ledger).
The Dark Knight producer, Charles Roven added: “Batman is an incredible franchise, and we are really excited about taking it to the next level with ‘The Dark Knight.’ Along with the Batmobile we are introducing a new vehicle, the Batpod, a new Batsuit and some classic characters in The Joker and Harvey Dent. We are confident that fans around the world will enjoy the increased action and the continuation of a great story and we hope they appreciate the integrity and respect we’ve shown for this iconic character.”
For their film-inspired product lines, Mattel will utilize the multiple elements introduced in The Dark Knight. A new Batsuit, a new vehicle in the form of the Batpod and multiple key action scenes that set the stage for inspired play. Mattel’s action figure line will feature Batman and the new Batsuit. Tyco R/C vehicles bring to life the speed and action of the Batmobile and the new Batpod. An entire line of action play items will allow boys to role-play being The Dark Knight. Additionally, Mattel will release a line of games and puzzles that will capture the film action through board games, puzzles and a special-edition UNO card game.
Products based on The Dark Knight are expected to begin arriving at retailers around the world beginning in early June 2008.
Source: Warner Bros. Consumer Products
In an interview with The Associated Press, The Incredibles director Brad Bird is asked about a possible sequel:
I love the world. I love the characters, and if I could come with a story that was as good or better than the original, I’d go there in a second. I have pieces of things that I would love to see in a sequel, but I haven’t got them all together yet, and I certainly wouldn’t want to come out there with something that is less than the original. … Sequels are not part of the business plan at Pixar. It’s all about the filmmakers being passionate about going somewhere.
His and Pixar’s next anticipated film, Ratatouille, opens in theaters on June 29.
Source: The Associated Press
Warner Bros. Pictures has provided us with a hi-res version of the new Batman suit from The Dark Knight, opening in theaters on July 18, 2008. Directed by Christopher Nolan, the anticipated sequel stars Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eric Roberts, Anthony Michael Hall and Nestor Carbonell.
Click the image below for the full photo!
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures
Marvel Entertainment, Inc. is enhancing its presence in the apparel category through new or expanded agreements with industry leaders. The company has entered into an extensive licensing agreement with Fruit of the Loom for the children’s underwear category.
Additionally, Marvel has finalized agreements with Crocs, Inc. and has expanded its agreement with master apparel licensee Kids Headquarters. The deals reflect Marvel’s brand-building licensing strategy to team its globally renowned character franchise with “best in class” partners.
“We are excited to commence brand new partnerships with Fruit of the Loom and Crocs and expand our relationship with Kids Headquarters to help significantly broaden Marvel’s impact in the apparel category,” said Paul Gitter, President of Consumer Products for North America, Marvel Entertainment. “Working with industry leaders Fruit of the Loom and Kids Headquarters and opening up new product categories with Crocs helps us achieve significant retail space and maximize the distribution of our licensed products in the mass market.”
Pursuant to the new multi-year licensing agreement, Fruit of the Loom will develop and manufacture children’s underwear lines based on several premier Marvel character franchises. Fruit of the Loom will initially create product lines based on the upcoming Marvel Studios feature films Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. It has also obtained the rights to develop products inspired by a diverse range of Marvel heroes and villains including: Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Daredevil, Thor, Fantastic Four Black Panther, Blade, Doctor Octopus, Dr. Strange, Elektra, Green Goblin, Nick Fury, Punisher, Silver Surfer, Venom and Sandman.
Through a new agreement, Crocs will develop a line of their wildly popular Crocs(TM) footwear based on a range of Marvel’s popular Super Heroes, including Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk and Captain America.
Through its recently extended multi-year license agreement, master apparel partner Kids Headquarters will expand its offerings of Marvel-branded apparel to include merchandise based on next summer’s Incredible Hulk film.
Source: Marvel Entertainment, Inc.