Say what they may (and they will) about the recently released Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but I suspect they’d be singing a different tune if they were the ones laughing their way to the bank right now. In its first five days in IMAX theaters, Transformers 2 set a five-day record of $14.4 million – and that’s only 3.5% of the film’s total grosses as of June 28th: $390,240,609.
So if I were Michael Bay, it wouldn’t take too much for me to ignore the harsh criticism that Transformers 2 has garnered – but that hasn’t stopped anyone from trying to get his attention.
THE HIGH SALE OF LOW QUALITY
It didn’t take critics long to start slamming the movie for being juvenile, and what CNN called “…a grotesque exercise in hyperinflation”. Most nay-sayers were reading from the same script, touting the film as a non-stop, action packed, plotless, 147-minute Hasboro commercial that appeals only to 14 year-old boys and their fathers who once owned the toys.
And they’re right, in my opinion. Transformers 2 is everything the critics say it is, and more. It is a Shia La Beouf/Megan Fox vehicle; an opportunity to watch Fox run through the sand in slow motion while La Beouf stammers like some next generation Hugh Grant; and of course, it is a chance to see the toys of our youth have the life-giving breath of CGI breathed into them so they can bang around like junkyard porn.
This is why I was willing to be gouged at the box office for IMAX tickets. Watching this movie made my childhood playthings come to life. And watching Megan Fox bounce through sandy explosions in super slow-mo made another childhood plaything come to life…
I, like so many others (and unlike so many critics), were not surprised to find that this movie wasn’t likely to be awarded an Oscar, nor was it going to warrant attention from any elite festival. So I didn’t leave the theater yammering about how the last 45 minutes of the film were vapid and mind-numbing, or groaning about how Skids and Mudflap were such offensive stereotypes of African Americans that I’m henceforth boycotting Michael Bay and everything Chevrolet. Instead, I left grinning from ear to ear, having gotten exactly what I expected. In fact, had I sat through two hours of insightful dialogue and profound, globally relevant social commentary, I would have left rather peeved.
But the people have spoken. Currently trailing closely behind The Dark Knight’s record grosses, the new Transformers will have its Revenge on the critics as it thunders down the road toward some serious box-office records of its own. And with numbers like these, it’s amazing that those involved with the production are still unsure about a third installment.
TRANSFORMERS 3 ANYBODY?
Dreamworks/Paramount has announced a release date for Transformers 3 exactly two years from now, while the momentum of the franchise is still strong. However, Michael Bay has expressed his desire to work on a smaller project before taking on another Transformers-caliber movie, and it’s not like he needs the money. Slash Film reports Bay’s take at 8% from toy sales, and another “good percentage on the back end (enough to make Bay $80 million on the first film, and the sequel is on track to make at least 50% more than the original)”.
In addition to Bay’s hesitation to cross that line at this time, the writers behind the Transformers 2 script, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, are weighing their options as well. Not only are they working on Cowboys and Aliens, they’re also staring down a Christmas deadline for a Star Trek 2 draft. And their public disinterest in continuing with the Transformers franchise is no surprise, really, as they could potentially be the scapegoats for the lambasting that the new movie is receiving from critics.
The future of a Transformers trilogy (at least with the current cast and crew) seems up in the air at the moment. But if Paramount/Dreamworks can look past the critical massacre that Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen has $urvived, and convince Bay to hop back on board, 14-year old boys and their fathers everywhere may just get their wish.
Just cuz I like ya, here’s a piece of Revenge of The Fallen-inspired modern art, courtesy of Dan Meth: