Transformers: Age of Extinction had a bit of a turbulent upbringing, with the production of the Michael Bay's fourth Transformers movie being plagued with several, rather serious, problems. However, at the end of it all, it looks like it it payed off, with Transformers 4 taking in an impressive $100 million domestic gross in its opening weekend. No doubt Paramount are still in the thralls of a massive boozy celebration?
Well, maybe not, because now that milestone figure is being brought into question. Deadline has received reports which suggested members of the Paramount staff fudged the numbers in order to secure their jobs. It seems that several Paramount employees' jobs were on the line if [Transformers: Age of Extinction](movie:206531) did not reach the much vaunted $100 million opening weekend mark, so in order to protect themselves they reported the figure of $100,038 million. However, every other major movie number crunching firm put their estimates in the range of $97.5-98 million.
One anonymous distribution executive told Deadline:
Looking at Rentrak, at this time the average for the three-days is $22.964M, representing a total gross for three days of $97.76M. Rentrak collected 97% of the grosses for the three days. In my humble opinion, it would be impossible for $100M to be reported.
Despite this, Paramount are still sticking by their own figures, stating:
We reported our number based on the estimates we received from the theaters this morning. [$100.038 million] is our final number.
With Transformers: Age of Extinction now in theaters, let's take stock of the various problems which arose during its production.
One of the first major newsworthy events to occur on the set of Transformers: Age of Extinction was a rather unusual event involving Michael Bay, two Chinese brothers and an air conditioning unit.
Back in October 2013, Bay was attacked on the Hong Kong set of Transformers by "some drugged up guys" wielding an air conditioning unit as a weapon. The attack must have been pretty harrowing, but it only seems fair that Michael Bay himself was finally involved in a gratuitous action scene. He said of the incident:
Yes, some drugged up guys were being belligerent asses to my crew for hours in the morning of our first shoot day in Hong Kong. One guy rolled metal carts into some of my actors trying to shake us down for thousands of dollars to not play his loud music or hit us with bricks. An hour later, he came by my crew as we were shooting, carrying a long air conditioner unit. He walked right up to me and tried to smack my face, but I ducked, threw the air unit on the floor and pushed him away. That's when the security jumped on him. But it took seven big guys to subdue him. It was like a Zombie in Brad Pitt's movie World War Z — he lifted seven guys up and tried to bite them. He actually bit into one of the guards Nike shoe, insane. Thank god it was an Air Max, the bubble popped, but the toe was saved.
At the time, it was reported the attackers were members of a local triad, however later reports suggested brotherly duo Mak Chi-hang and Mak Chi-shing were behind the assault. The pair owned a local air conditioning repair shop and were displeased with the HK$1000 ($129) they were offered for disruption caused by filming, instead demanding one hundred times more for compensation. When Bay refused, a fight ensued.
In February this year, Mak Chi-shing and Mak Chi-hang received prison sentences of two and a half years and six months respectively.
Although it turned out the Mak brothers weren't members of the infamous Hong Kong triads, that doesn't mean the Transformers production didn't have run-ins with these ancient mafiosos.
A second police investigation took place to attempt to find gang members who also tried to extort money from staff on the set. According to The Hollywood Reporter, four men intimidated a crew member by attempting to blackmail her for money while she was setting up a shot on a rooftop in Kowloon.
Police arrested one 35-year-old man, while their anti-triad unit went after the others.
Little Trouble in Big China
But this wasn't the end to Michael Bay's Chinese woes. Just last week, days before Transformers: Age of Extinction was due in theaters, a Chinese partner demanded edits to the movie after they were left unsatisfied with the final cut.
Chinese real estate developer, Beijing Pangi Investment Company claimed Paramount did not perform the terms of their deal concerning product placement in Transformers: Age of Extinction. Pangi's prestigious Pangu Plaza Hotel was featured in the film as part of a $1,000,000 deal, however after being left unsatisfied, the Pangi executives insisted the building be removed from the film, adding the issue had led to "financial and reputation loss." Concerning the dispute, Paramount stated:
Pangu Plaza has a prominent placement in Transformers 4 and it looks beautiful onscreen. We regret that Pangu is not currently satisfied with certain aspects of our collaboration and are working to resolve its concerns.
Transformers: Age of Extinction is the latest Hollywood blockbuster to attempt to actively court Chinese cash by working as a co-production with several Chinese studios and production companies. Experts had suggested it might be a bumpy road, especially considering American and Chinese studio executives often come from different working background and cultures. Ultimately, however, it looks like Paramount will reap significant rewards from the venture, as Transformers: Age of Extinction is due to become the highest grossing foreign movie to ever open in China.
However, China wasn't the only thing causing Michael Bay problems in the run-up to the release of Transformers: Age of Extinction - apparently he was also receiving some grief from a naughty teleprompter.
In January, the director was asked to talk at Samsung's CES event about his upcoming movie, as well as the job he's been doing for several decades. However, after appearing on stage for less than a minute, he appeared dazed and confused as he had to contend with an apparent teleprompter failure. It seems, that for all this skill with pyrotechnics, the Transformers helmer since 2007 was unable to conjure up a few spontaneous words about his new project or the massive television behind him.
Instead, he looked terrified for a few moments, and span around a bit before fleeing the stage and leaving a confused presenter to some how continue with the proceedings. Luckily, someone was on hand to record the event for posterity. Take a look below:
And now here he is explaining the foul up, and how it's helped him with the ladies:
Before Transformers: Age of Extinction could arrive in theaters, there was still one more hurdle for the helmsman to clear - the inevitably terrible reviews.
The entire Transformers franchise, despite the billions of dollars it's made, has never received any love from film critics - in fact, it's often the franchise that is singled out as an example how cinema has been dumbed down as a creative and artistic medium.
Just like with the other movies in the franchise, Transformers: Age of Extinction was panned by critics, with the movie only scoring 17% on Rotten Tomatoes - making it the worst reviewed of the entire series. However, it seems he's got to the point where movie criticism is like water off of a massive, transforming, fire-breathing duck's back. Regarding the negative reviews, he said:
[Naysayers] love to hate, and I don’t care; let them hate. They’re still going to see the movie! I think it’s good to get a little tension. Very good. I used to get bothered by it, but I think it’s good to get the dialogue going. It makes me think, and it keeps me on my toes, so it’s good.
What do you think? Are you glad Transformers: Age of Extinction made it through all this production fire and brimstone?
Are you glad Transformers: Age of Extinction made into theaters?