Posted on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 by Ben Pearson
The first Transformers film came out ten years ago, and ever since, director Michael Bay has been threatening to walk away from the franchise. It’s a tale as old as time: boy meets intellectual property, a boy blows stuff up in a movie based on said intellectual property, boy gets huffy about returning for the sequel, the studio offers boy money, boy caves and directs sequel. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Now he’s at it again. After hinting that the upcoming Transformers: The Last Knight would be his final time behind the camera in this series, Bay says he wants to direct one of the 14 Transformers spin-offs that are currently in development. So let’s run through the greatest hits of Bay’s love/hate relationship with these movies, and then speculate about what a Michael Bay Transformers spinoff could be.
Why Can’t He Quit This Franchise?
I won’t pretend to know what’s in the man’s heart and mind, but money can be very persuasive, and Bay has made a lot of it during his reign as the king of the Transformers films. The director made $80 million on the backend from the first film alone, and a 2009 Forbes article reported that Bay was second only to George Lucas when it came to lucrative toy deals: Lucas made 15% on Star Wars toys, and in ’09, Bay got 8% of toy sales tied to the Transformers movies. I can only imagine his fortune has increased dramatically in the past eight years.
But putting the monetary aspect aside, it’s probably tough for the filmmaker who launched such a mega-successful franchise to simply walk away after being the singular visionary behind it for a decade.
A History of Bay’s Threats to Leave
- In 2007, Bay got upset when Paramount signed a deal to support HD-DVD over Blu-ray and said, “No Transformers 2 for me!” The next morning, he retracted his comment and agreed to direct the sequel again.
- In 2009, he said, “After the three and a half years I’ve spent making these movies, I’ve had enough of the Transformers world.” Later, he backpedaled and said he only meant that he wanted to do something else in between sequels. That same year, he said, “no way” when the studio dated it for Summer 2011. Bay ended up directing the movie and hitting that release date anyway.
- In 2011, Paramount announced they were in talks with Bay to direct Transformers 4, but the director immediately denied that claim (likely trying to leverage a higher payday). Of course, he ended up directing Age of Extinction.
- In 2014, Bay said he wanted to “flex new muscles” and pass the baton of this series to another director. But you know the pattern: he’s ultimately back behind the camera for this summer’s Transformers: The Last Knight.
- In 2016, Bay said The Last Knight would be “the last one. I have to pass the reins to someone else.”
- And finally, in February of this year, he said: “this time might really be it.” But he slipped the word “might” in there, and now his latest comments indicate he’s not quite finished yet.
What Could The Michael Bay Transformers Spinoff Be?
It’s too early to know for sure which spinoff Bay wants to tackle, but in the interview with MTV in which he mentioned 14 movies are in the works, he did say, “I would like to do one of them though. A Transformers spinoff.”
Of the options Peter laid out in his article this morning, I have to assume Bay would be the most interested in a Transformers spin-off set in ancient Rome. He’s shown an affinity for traveling through time in these films, revisiting the moon landing in Dark of the Moon and going back to mythological Arthurian England and World War II in The Last Knight. Ancient Rome doesn’t seem too outlandish, especially in a franchise as ridiculous as this one.
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