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?