For the third in the franchise, Michael Bay’s Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon premiered in Moscow, where the press conference for the movie was also held – and those Russian journalists certainly weren’t shy with their questions!
In this installment, Shia LaBeouf returns as Sam Witwicky, trying to manage a mysterious event from Earth’s past which erupts into the present day, that is so huge it threatens to bring a war to Earth that the Transformers alone will not be able to save the human race.
Michael Bay spoke with the press about the franchise, and his personal link to Russia.
Is it hard to surprise the audience with each new movie?
New technologies make it harder, because you keep trying to push the boundaries. Jim Cameron called me up and he asked me, ‘So in making the third one, was it easier or harder?’ I knew he was asking that because of Avatar II. And I said, ‘Jim, it’s definitely harder because you keep trying to push yourself farther.’
You once said that 3D was not compatible to your aggressive shooting style.
Steven Spielberg and Jim Cameron kept saying I should shoot this movie in 3D. I was a skeptic, because it’s new technology; the systems are a lot bigger, heavier. There are a lot of technical issues that would bore you. But it’s hard taking it into the real world and the streets, moving it around and putting it on rigs.
So we had to invent a lot of stuff, like strapping it on to the sky diver’s helmets, where they’re tracking behind guys flying through the air. But I slowed my style down a bit. I made longer, wider shots, moving through things; made the shot kind of unfold in a very cool, 3D way. I loved working with 3D. I think it really works well in this movie.
You’ve been collaborating with Linkin Park – is that because you like them as a band, their music or something else?
Linkin Park have always been huge Transformers fans. What I like about their music is they do very movie-esque kind of music. We’ve had a good run. The first two movies, they’ve both been number one hits. And they played me this song, which actually just fit in perfectly, so I’m really happy that they’re here.
How many cars did you destroy shooting this film?
532 cars were destroyed. But these are cars that are flood damaged. The car companies gave them to us because, by law, they have to be crushed. So I am a perfect guy to do that!
The last Transformers film was called ‘the worst film of the year,’ starting the new one, were you afraid of the same reaction?
Well, your comment is a little insulting to the artists that worked on this. The movie did make a lot of money. I admit it’s not one of my better films. It’s by far not ‘the worst film ever made.’ A movie doesn’t make $835 million being the worst film. So I don’t know how to answer your question, other than that.
We had a writers’ strike during movie 2, so it was tough. And it really wasn’t fair to the writers, because normally a movie like this would take about eight months to write. Because of the strike, the writers had about three. So it was a very complicated, rough process on that movie.
But on the third one, we really tried to get it right and really deliver. And I think we did. I think it’s the best of the three, personally, to me. I love the innocence of the first. But this one, I think, really delivers.
Why are you having the premiere in Russia?
When I was a kid, my grandfather, who is from Russia, said I would never make it in the film business. [He said], ‘You’re gonna be in the jean business when this film school doesn’t work out.’ So maybe that’s why we’re here in Moscow. (he laughs)
Moscow is an emerging market. It’s becoming very important in the international world, in terms of film. So we are actually traveling to certain countries, from Brazil to Moscow to China, because they are all big, emerging markets, and it’s very important. So I’m really happy and proud that we’re here.
There’s this scientific theory that all these catastrophe films indirectly are bringing the end of the world closer to us.
I don’t understand the ‘end of the world’ question.
You don’t believe in the end of the world?
Actually, I do believe in the end of the world. That’s what the asteroid did: how the dinosaurs died. Being around NASA scientists when I was working on Armageddon, being around some of the greatest physicists at NASA, that’s our National Space Agency, they believe the end of the world will come – not probably in our time, because mathematically it’s a very slim margin. But it will happen, they say. So let’s enjoy tonight, okay!