Discuss: Michael Bay Made $80 Million Directing Transformers


You don't need to be some Hollywood naïf to recoil in shock from its biggest extravagances. Which goes a long way to explaining my migraine this morning after browsing Forbes's new Michael Bay profile. Or rather, Michael Bay Inc. -- that monolithic institution you might have thought was paid by the explosion, but has actually rigged a Lucasian spigot of cash in the same bathroom where it generates so much of its output.

Per Forbes, the flat $125,000 fee Bay made for Bad Boys (20% of which went to cover crew expenses) was a one-time deal; never again should a bottomless well of blockbuster fare run so perilously low on funds. The back-end deals that followed surged with Pearl Harbor ($40 million against $450 million gross worldwide) and crested with the first Transformers -- an $80 million payday after Paramount/Dreamworks took its cut from $700 million. And that doesn't include the 8% that Bay receives from Transformers merchandising, a deal reportedly second only to George Lucas's 15% from Star Wars products.

Did Bay earn it? Sure he did; he tapped known brands, shamelessly integrated product placement, and nabbed the most cover-friendly, quotable actress on the planet to drag his biggest franchise with her everywhere she goes. Hats off, that's the biz. But as alluded to here this week, it's Transformers -- he was paid almost three times the entire budget of The Hangover to make a movie about cars that kick each others' asses. Anyway, it's done. What can you do, except hope that a more modest salary doesn't deter him from pursuing an indie like The Littlest Boom? One good risk deserves another, right?

· Michael Bay: Making Movies, Enemies and Money [Forbes via /film]


  • JudgeFudge says:

    The maddening thing about Michael Bay is that its like in some fucked up alternate universe he is a very talented, skilled, filmaker; adept at storytelling, charachter development, and endearing the audience to his films, but in this universe he just has the opposite of whatever those instincts are, but the people love it all the same?!

  • A Concerned Citizen says:

    You guys have mentioned The Hangover in just about every post over the past couple of days. Are you guys on the payroll or something?

  • Furious D says:

    My problem with Bay is that he doesn't direct the movie. He directs the trailer. Everything else that doesn't go in the trailer, like character, story, and all that, he doesn't seem to care about.

  • Liz Lemonazi says:

    Michael Bay needs to team up with Matthew Mcconaughey to make Transformers 3: Rise of the Seafaring about an ocean liner and its beloved young pal. Then they can both make nothing of worth, become insanely rich, and we can yuck it up with them. Hey but for the record, Transformers was good.

  • daveed says:

    Can't fault the guy. Envy him, sure. He puts out what clearly a ton of people pay to see, and makes a pile of cash for himself and others. Somehow it works.

  • Inhaler says:

    And Kristen Cavallari is making 63k an episode acting in a scripted reality TV show about, nothing? We just happen to live in a grossly disproportionate society. But at least we have Michael Moore...yeah.

  • chuck says:

    I won't hear a word said against Michael Bay. He's the most talented 2nd unit director in Hollywood.

  • justin says:

    what is michael bays total gross income. like from all the movies and commercials and tv series he ever directed, produced or acted in

  • [...] among the prime earners in their respective fields -- as a substitute of being paid a flat price, Bay will get a share of his movies' box office gross after the studio recoups manufacturing and advertising costs, a [...]