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How Michael Bay Transformed Himself Into the Mogul of Mindlessness

When it comes to figures of derision and scorn in the Hollywood community, you would be hard-pressed to find many people ranked higher than Michael Bay. And with good reason, too; not only has Bay been producing and directing mindless schlock since the early nineties (fact: his first directorial credit was for 1990's Playboy Video Centerfold: Kerri Kendall), but along the way he has gotten totally rich. Not Spielberg or Lucas rich, mind you, but the latest issue of Forbes provides some great detail on exactly how much money Bay has raked in over the years. Depending on your mood today, you may not want to continue along.

Okay, phew, you made it. After collecting nominal paydays (relatively speaking) working as a director for hire on films like Bad Boys and The Rock (he made $125,000 for the former), Bay decided to play some hardball when it came time to make Pearl Harbor for Disney. As Forbes explains:

He took fees on his next two films, The Rock and Armageddon, but by 2000 he decided he wanted to be more than a director for hire and insisted on part ownership. For Pearl Harbor, a $140 million (production cost) movie, he declined upfront pay in favor of a 50 percent split of what remained after the studio recouped production and advertising costs. The film grossed $450 million; Bay pocketed $40 million.


As if that weren't enough to make your jaw drop, Forbes also reports that Bay has a licensing deal with Hasbro that entitles him to reap an 8 percent royalty fee on the sale of every Transformers-related product, an industry coup that's second only to the 15 percent that George Lucas gets from every purchase of a Star Wars toy. He also commands an 8 percent of the net of every film produced underneath his Platinum Dunes banner, which consists almost exclusively of low-budget horror remakes like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th and the upcoming Nightmare on Elm Street reboot. So what's our point? We don't really have one, necessarily; this is just a little something for you to gnaw on when you inevitably plop down your $12 to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in a few weeks, that's all.

Michael Bay: Making Movies, Enemies and Money [Forbes]

Photo: Getty Images