Producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura formed his production company di Bonaventura Pictures in 2003, and enjoyed an international success with Transformers – he’s expecting another mega-hit with its sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, in which the Autobot robots team with the US Military to save Humanity from the evil Decepticons, who are still hiding on Earth.
In what way does the military bring credibility and realism to this film?
The way to look at it is if you’re going to fight these 32-to-125 foot robots, who else would you fight them with? Michael [Bay, the director] has a long history of meeting with the military and having them in his movies. What they bring to it is a sense of reality to the movie, but for us what is most interesting about it is our actual interaction with them, because you get to see these people who’ve made a life choice, and the honesty of that choice comes through each and every time you meet these guys. So for us the really exciting thing is we get to hang out on the base and see the joy they get out of being a part of us, and also see us get affected by their level of commitment. Because we’re in Hollywood, and we’re a bit more spoiled than they are.
I’d like to ask about the use of the SR-71, the blackbird – did you go to the Air and Space Museum and say that’s the one?
We didn’t have it in the script as that I don’t think. When we went there on location we saw that thing and went, ‘What a cool plane.’ There was a lot of ideas that came out of the Smithsonian that we couldn’t use, because you see some of the classic things, the lunar module, we tried to put a few of them in [the movie]. It’s such a cool looking plane and the idea of turning it into an old guy just felt right.
With Optimus Prime being the most important character for the fans, why choose to focus more on the Human characters and less on the Autobots?
When we sat down to discuss the first movie, there were a lot of people who don’t know anything about Transformers and the only way they got an access point was Humans. In a way, for the hardcore Transformer fans, it might have been enough, but we made a decision that you needed something else to relate to. And they’re expensive as hell, so the more you use them, the more it cost.
How often did the studio intervene saying there were too many action scenes?
The design that the writers came up with in the first film was boy-gets-car-gets-girl, so there’s a rite of passage that all of us can relate to some version of that, and if it wasn’t about a car it was about something else. The design here is what is it like to become an adult, break away from the nest, all the things these guys built into the story, so you’re constantly related on a personal level to some aspect of that journey. So when it gets interrupted by the action in a sense you’re invested in what’s going on.
Where do you see the franchise going – will there be a ‘Transformers 3’?
We don’t really think about the movie until after it opens up. To be honest with you, we’re all a little bit superstitious about it, and also there’s sort of an arrogance about a presumption of success. Obviously a movie like this is going to be out there and the audience is going to come and one presumes that there’s going to be a certain level [of success], but on the first movie we felt the same way and we never talked about the second movie script until well after the movie had opened, and we’re going to do the same thing with the third. You get two advantages by waiting, one is you get to find out what the fans really liked and if there are things they missed. And the other is you can focus all your creative and all your emotional energy on this one.