The Transformers movies have always been something of a quandary. Critics have ripped into the repetitive plots, poor acting, sophomoric humor, and objectification of women. Yet the franchise has brought in nearly $5 billion globally, meaning that director Michael Bay had to be doing something right during his time at the helm.
However, directing five of the movies is something he says he now regrets, with none other than the iconic Steven Spielberg having warned him against it.
The series is often held up as quintessential Michael Bay. Bay’s detractors claim that he produces movies squarely directed at a teenage male audience, full of explosions, toilet humor, and attractive women. The cultural value of the series is, in their view, next to zero. However, others contend that Transformers and other Bay films represent the disconnect between what critics want to see and what the general public wants to see. For his part, Bay has never been shy about his intent, once sarcastically saying that “I make movies for teenage boys. Oh, dear, what a crime.”
Steven Spielberg thought Michael Bay should stop after three Transformers movies
Whether because of a desire to see Bay’s talent put to better use, exhaustion with his style, jealousy of his success, or pure snobbishness, there are undoubtedly many people glad to see Bay stop making Transformers movies. And that includes Steven Spielberg. “I made too many of them,” Bay recently told Unilad UK. “Steven Spielberg said, ‘Just stop at three.’ And I said I’d stop. The studio begged me to do a fourth, and then that made a billion too. And then I said I’m gonna stop here. And they begged me again. I should have stopped. [But] they were fun to do.”
Interestingly, Spielberg has worked as an executive producer on every single one of the Transformers movies without receiving the negative feedback that Bay has. That said, there’s no indication that he was ever particularly hands-on with the franchise.
While Bay has moved on from directing Transformers, he’ll be serving as a producer alongside Spielberg on the upcoming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, directed by Steven Caple Jr. The movie, the first mainline entry without Bay at the helm, will be based around the “Beast Wars” subfranchise, which features robots transforming into beasts instead of cars.
Away from Transformers, Bay will continue making bombastic, high-octane action movies, with his most recent film Ambulance set for release on April 8. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Eiza González. It follows two bank-robbing siblings as they hijack an ambulance, taking two first responders hostage. Rise of the Beasts, meanwhile, is expected to debut in theaters on June 9, 2023.