Michael Bay is a director whose signature, “everything blows up,” is well known among film buffs and general audiences alike. To most people he is not a director of substance but he is undoubtedly the king of popcorn flicks. Critics, for the most part, have not been kind to his films and 100% of the films he has directed lie within the 1-3 stars out of 5 for most mainstream critics with large audiences. He started his film career interning for George Lucas on Raiders Of the Lost Ark filing storyboards when he was only fifteen. His experience working on the film and seeing the final product in theaters (He had thought the film was going suck based on the storyboards (remind you of anyone on this site?) that he worked on) he decided that he was going to become a director. After doing his graduate work he attended Art Center College of Design. The same school that has produced Directors Tarsem Singh, Zack Znyder, Cinematographer Larry Fong and other notable film makers (Now we see why they’re all very stylish directors). After a string of Commercials (with one he did for the Red Cross winning a Cilo Award), he caught the eye of Jerry Bruckheimer who gave him his first break as a director and introduced the world to Michael Bay, with Bad Boys starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.
Today on “By the Numbers”, we will be looking at what the world is saying about Michael Bay with their money. For someone with such a repertoire, it is quite astonishing that he has not been relegated to Joel Schumacher levels of career decline and even more incredible is the amount of success his films still achieve financially. Which outside its purpose to entertain, is the main reason why films are made. All numbers used will be a sum of all production costs and advertising and relevant one will include revenue from product placement.
His first film, Bad Boys (1995), was produced with a total sum of $19 Million. He was a new director and for Bruckheimer, 19 million was minimum risk. The film grossed $141,407,024. While it failed with critics (only rated 4.9 out of 10 by most), it was a success with the audience. Following the Success of Bad Boys , he developed a strong partnership with Jerry Bruckheimer and his next endevour was the critically panned The Rock (1996) , starring Nicholas Cage and legendary Bond actor, Sean Connery. It was produced with a $75 million and went on to gross $335,062,621 worldwide. This was followed up with Armageddon starring Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck which was produced on a budget of $140 million and went on to gross $553 million worldwide. As with every hollywood success, a sequel was bound to be made and Bad Boys II was released in 2003 on a budget of $130 million and grossing $273,339,556 worldwide. Almost twice as much as the first one. Bay’s only failure in the Box Office was The Island. A film that only made $46 million domestically but went on to make $172 million worldwide on a126 million budget. By the numbers, that’s still a win and it grossed more than his first film even though it made less profit. It was a financial success. Bay explained this saying the studio didn’t use his marketing plan and he believed this caused audiences to “Confuse about what the film was about” during the campaign.
On the top five highest grossing films on his resume, the lowest, the critically pannedPearl Harbor Starring Ben Affleck and Cuba Gooding Jr made $449,220,945 worldwide in 2001 on a budget of $140 million. His most recent “small” film (Pain and Gain) made$94,794,814 on a $26 million dollar budget (which people would attribute to the star power of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and before that he had Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 2011. The conclusion (At the time) to a Franchise that had been brutally panned by critics since its beginning and yet continued to make more than its predecessors. The numbers for the Transformers Franchise are known to almost every fan and it are a testament to the financial success of Michael Bay as a director. Besides box office receipts, that franchise was Bay’s forray into heavy product placement. The series has a collective cume of $2,669,807,552 worldwide on a collective budget of $710,000,000. Product placement campaigns with Cheverolet, Mountain Dew and Samsung alone have garnered the franchise over $1 billion collectively and theme parks and other media based on the film franchise continue to rake in revenue. All of which have Bay as director amd consultant respectively.
By The Numbers concludes that, with their hard earned cash (or whatever dubious ways people make money these days), the movie going audience has proven that despite what film analysts and critics may say, they enjoy the product that Michael Bay is selling and have thus encouraged the upcoming fifth entry to the Transformers franchise and the abundance of Michael Bay produced media (Films, TV shows, electronics endorsements and such).
His latest venture back into the Transformers Universe, Transfomers: Age Of Extinction, while panned by both critics and fans alike, made $1.104,000,000 on a $210 million budget. It also had the distinction of being the ONLY film of 2014 to earn over One Billion dollars at the box office, which has directly led to Paramounts vigorous expansion plans for the franchise. Michael Bay might be a hack where critics are concerned but he is without a doubt a box office darling.
Like him or not, Michael Bay is : WINNING BY THE NUMBERS
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NEXT on By The Numbers with Majeed: JOSS WHEDON
Rating System Index in no particular order
WINNING : Positive across the board
WINNING CRITICS: Critics/Popularity agree on popular verdict but numbers don’t
WINNING BY THE NUMBERS: Critics and Popular verdict is negative, but numbers are winning
I’m still taking suggestions for more ratings as we move forward