It's a little strange to listen to Michael Bay complain about how difficult it was to get his next feature film, "Pain & Gain," financed and produced. Especially when you consider that Bay's last three films -- all installments in the "Transformers" franchise -- have earned more than $2.7 billion worldwide. Oh, and that the budget for "Pain and Gain" -- starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson as two Miami bodybuilders who become involved in a kidnapping plot that's much too bizarre to sum up in a few words -- is only $25 million. Again, remember, this is Michael Bay we're talking about. No matter what you think of his movies, you can't deny that they make heaps of money.
I won't lie: Bay is making the rounds to promote not a movie but a corn-chip contest. For the last few years, Doritos has run a contest giving aspiring filmmakers the chance to direct the company's Super Bowl ad. This year, as an added bonus, the winner will also get to "work with" Bay on "Transformers 4." Bay admits that it's unclear what kind of "work" this person will do, but he promises it won't be too menial. Ahead, Bay explains why he wants to work on "Transformers 4" after so adamantly declaring that "Dark of the Moon" would be his last chapter. He also confirms that the series will pick up where the last one left off in Chicago -- with Peter Cullen back as the voice of Optimus Prime -- and describes just how hard it is for even a multi-billion-dollar director to get a $25 million dollar movie off the ground these days.
You seem like a busy guy.
[Laughs] I am. A little bit. I've got TV shows going, trying to develop "Transformers 4," finishing "Pain & Gain" right now -- it's a fun movie.
Why do you want to do it? I was under the impression that you were done after "Transformers 3"?
I thought I was done. Then the ride came out [at Universal Studios Hollywood] and the two-and-a-half-hour lines. And then you're thinking, Oh my God, someone's going to take this over. And you start doing a lot of soul-searching. Like, OK, I'm about to do a little movie, "Pain & Gain" ... and the studio says they want to restart the franchise. And someone could come in here and screw it up, you know? So I'm thinking that if I do this last one, we set it on a new footing, we change a lot of things -- but we keep the history of the three in place. But we broaden it so it can be set up and be carried on -- it would have a better chance for survival, I guess. You know?
So it was just one of those things. It's like, when you look what's going on in the film business with the franchise frenzy right now, why is Cameron doing two more "Avatar" movies? Why is Peter Jackson doing three more "Hobbit" movies that are in the same world as "Lord of the ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings"? When you have a franchise, it's very hard to give it up.