Whether you love him, hate him or refer to him as Hitler after he’s made you a superstar, there’s no denying that Michael Bay has cracked this blockbuster code. Look no further than his latest directorial effort, the fourth film in the Transformers franchise, to see just how insane Bay’s box-office Midas touch has become. Despite being brutally savaged by critics and half of the internet, Transformers: Age of Extinction had the biggest opening weekend of the year, is the biggest overall earner of the year with a tally of just over $1 billion, and is currently ranked as the 9th biggest box office earner of all time.
So yeah, (at least when it comes to commercial success) Bay is definitely at the top of his gratuitously explosive game. But the view of the top is seemingly getting a bit boring, as Bay has revealed during an interview with USA Today that despite all that success, he is planning to hand over the directorial reins of the Transformers franchise to somebody else, while he starts tackling new endeavours. This is something that he actually spoke about doing before production on Transformers: Age of Extinction – which is the start of a new trilogy in the franchise – but this time, he apparently means it.
Bay, 49, believes he will pass the baton for future Transformer movies to a new director while he turns his focus elsewhere.
“There’s kind of a new chapter, a new direction in movies I want to make,” says Bay, who is eyeing a passion project, a documentary on elephant poaching. “I have a lot of stories to tell. And it’s about flexing new muscles.”
Yes, elephant poaching. Bay has been dabbling in the TV space as well recently, producing ABC’s The Last Ship (which I admit has become a bit of a guilty pleasure) and Starz’s Black Sails (which is made right here in Cape Town), both of which have been ratings successes. So with that small screen success, and with such uncharacteristic, patchy experiments as last year’s Pain & Gain, it’s not surprising that Bay feels the need to branch out now that he’s pretty much achieved whatever he’s wanted to achieve with big screen blockbusters.
So who would take over from Bay? The current obvious choice would be Jonathan Liebesman, who has just directed the Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and is sort of his protégé. He’s even followed so closely in his mentor’s footsteps that he made a movie that was almost universally trashed by critics, but then pulled in $65 million domestically on its opening weekend and already has a sequel greenlit. His directorial style will also make for a fairly seamless transition to the next few chapters in the Transformers series, which is what I’m guessing the studios will want as they clearly already have a winning formula here that they wouldn’t want to upset in any way.
I’ve always maintained that Bay is not a talentless director (please see: Bad Boys and The Rock). His biggest problems are his habit of copying himself over and over again, and completely eradicating the word restraint from his vocabulary. Given the right material to work with, and an actual honest to goodness, well written script instead of just a powerpoint presentation of CGI explosions, I will be very interested to see what Bay could do.
Last Updated: August 13, 2014