Nobody likes to think the movie they’ve poured time and effort into is terrible. Sometimes, however, the truth can be unavoidable. This is what happened to Michael Bay who, in an interview with Screen Rant, recalled how he found out his Transformers films were bad after attending a press screening for one of the five robot movies he directed.
“I’m telling you, here’s a little trick. When directors go pre-screen their movies, we’re testing them, you see what [audiences] feel and whatnot, and I’ve got the sound thing there, you want to throw up,” Bay said. “Every director wants to throw up the first time a big audience is looking at that thing. And you’ll see people walking down slowly in the test, and you want to grab them, ‘No, no, no. Hang on. There’s a big scene. If you miss this scene, you’re going to miss the whole thing.'”
He continued, “So it’s intense, like Transformers…So two houses, 400 people in each house, starting 15 minutes difference or something like that. I’m now watching it with a whole bunch of families and kids, and I’m like, ‘OK, dumb robot movie. Oh my God. It’s just a kids’ movie. Oh, man. Oh, what did I do?’ It gets a huge score, and it was unfinished.”
Although his Transformers film got a good score from the family movie audience, Bay later revealed that the adult test screen audience were less enthusiastic. “Then I go to the next theatre, and I’ve got the sound thing and there’s an empty seat and there’s a guy, whatever,” he said.
“This is more of the adult kind of room, and I look to the guy and I [ask], ‘Do you like this movie?’ And he goes, ‘[meh hand motion]. And I’m like, ‘Oh, this is terrible. I just made a terrible movie.'”
With Bay making the first Transformers movie in 2007, the modern version of the action movie franchise turns 15 this year. He’s since stepped away, with 2018’s Bumblebee directed by Travis Knight. The next production will be Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts, directed by Steven Caple Jr.