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Michael Bay

Bay in 2008
Born Michael Benjamin Bay
February 17, 1965 (1965-02-17) (age 45)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Film director
Film producer
Years active 1984–present

Michael Benjamin Bay (born February 17, 1965) is an American film director and producer. He is best known for directing high-budget action-adventure films characterized for their fast edits and substantial use of practical effects.[1] His films have grossed over three billion dollars world-wide.[2] His current project, Transformers 3, begins filming in May 2010.[3] He is co-founder of commercial production house The Institute, aka The Institute for the Development of Enhanced Perceptual Awareness. [4] He is co-chair and part-owner of the legacied special effects house, Digital Domain.[5] He co-owns Platinum Dunes, a production house known for its profitable remakes of classic horror movies including Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the forthcoming A Nightmare on Elm Street. [6]


Personal life

Michael Bay was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He was raised by his adoptive parents Harriet, a bookstore owner/child psychiatrist, and Jim, a CPA.[7] He is distantly related to Leonard Nimoy, through his cousin, Susan Bay, who is married to the Star Trek actor.[8] He attended the exclusive Crossroads School, in Santa Monica, California, a private institution known for its famous and wealthy alumni.[9] Bay often traces his interest in explosive action films back to an incident during his childhood. As a boy, he attached some firecrackers to a toy train and filmed the ensuing fiery disaster with his mother's 8mm camera. The firemen were called and he was grounded.[10]

Bay is also a noted fan of animals. He donated his Bar Mitzvah money to an animal shelter and to this day features his bullmastiff dogs in his films.[11] He interned for George Lucas when he was fifteen and filed the storyboards for Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.[12]

He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1986, majoring in both English and Film.[13] He was a a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity and a favorite student of noted film historian Jeanine Basinger.[14] For his graduate work, he attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena where he also studied film.

Currently, he lives in Los Angeles and Miami with his two bullmastiffs, Bonecrusher and Grace, named for characters in Transformers and Armageddon, respectively. Bonecrusher appeared as Mikaela’s dog “Bones” in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Mason, his first bullmastiff, was named for John Patrick Mason, played by Sean Connery in The Rock. Mason's last appearance in a film was as Miles' dog in Transformers. He passed away during production in March 2007.[15][16]

Early career

Michael Bay began working at Propaganda Films with weeks of finishing film school, directing commercials and music videos for which he has won a number of awards. His ninety second World War II-inspired Coca-Cola ad was picked up by Capitol Records. His first national commercial for the Red Cross won a Clio Award in 1992.[17][18] He created the Got Milk? ad campaign for the California Milk Processors Board in 1993.[19]

Music videos

Year Song Band Notes
2001 "There You'll Be" Faith Hill Theme from Pearl Harbor
1997 "Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)" Aerosmith
1994 "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are" Meat Loaf
1994 "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" Meat Loaf
1993 "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" Meat Loaf
1992 "You Won't See Me Cry" Wilson Phillips
1992 "Do It to Me" Lionel Richie
1992 "Love Thing" Tina Turner
1991 "I Touch Myself" Divinyls
1989 "I'll Be Holding On" Gregg Allman from the movie Black Rain
1989 "Angelia" Richard Marx
1989 "Soldier of Love" Donny Osmond


Bad Boys

Bay made his first feature film, Bad Boys, in 1995, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. The movie became a success with a total of almost $141 million in ticket sales worldwide and generated a huge profit for producers Jerry Bruckheimer, Don Simpson and Columbia Pictures.

The Rock

His follow-up film, The Rock (1996), is an action movie set on Alcatraz Island, and the San Francisco Bay area. It stars Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris. Again it was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, the latter of whom died five months before the film's release. The film is dedicated to him. The movie won a number of minor awards, including 'Best On-Screen Duo' for Connery and Cage at the MTV Movie Awards as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound.


In 1998, he collaborated again with Jerry Bruckheimer to direct Armageddon. The film, released at a time when disaster films were seeing a comeback, was about a group of tough oil drillers who are sent by NASA to deflect an asteroid away from a collision course with Earth. It starred Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Ben Affleck. Armageddon was nominated for 4 Oscars at the 71st Academy Awards including Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, and Best Original Song. Armageddon went on to gross over $550 million worldwide.

Pearl Harbor

In 2001, Bay directed Pearl Harbor. It starred Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale and Cuba Gooding, Jr. The film was released on Memorial Day weekend in 2001. Bay also produced the film along with Jerry Bruckheimer. Critical response was mixed and many critics dismissed the film as visually polished but bearing flaws in its dialogue, underdeveloped love triangle plot, anochronism, and historical inaccuracies. At the 2002 Academy Awards, Pearl Harbor was nominated for four awards, winning one for Sound Effects Editing. Other nominations were for Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, and Best Song.[20]

Bad Boys II

Bay reteamed with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence for Bad Boys II, an event which also marked Bay's fifth collaboration with Jerry Bruckheimer. The film was a box office success. It made $138 million domestically, enough to cover the production budget, and $273 million worldwide, almost twice as much as the first movie.

The Island

In 2005, Bay directed The Island, a science-fiction film described as a pastiche of "escape-from-dystopia," starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. It was the first film Michael Bay made without Jerry Bruckheimer and also his first to disappoint in the US domestic box office, given his prior successes. The Island earned $36 million; it was more successful overseas, where it netted a respectable $163 million worldwide. Bay himself stated that he was not comfortable with the domestic marketing campaign as it confused the audience as to the true subject of the film.[21] Although not particularly well-received, some critics did note a gentler, more humanistic side to the film, and praised the special effects, stunts, Mauro Fiore's cinematography, and Bay's handling of the movie's intense, multiple chase scenes.

Bay filming on the set of Transformers.


In 2007, he directed and teamed up with Steven Spielberg to produce Transformers, a live action film based on the Transformers franchise. The film was released in the U.S. and Canada on July 3, 2007, with 8 p.m. preview screenings on July 2. The previews earned $8.8 million, and in its first day of general release it grossed $27.8 million, a record for Tuesday box office attendance. It broke the record held by Spider-Man 2 for the biggest July 4 gross, making $29 million. On its opening weekend, Transformers grossed $70.5 million, amounting to a $155.4 million opening week, giving it the record for the biggest opening week for a non-sequel.[22] As of November 2007, the film has made over $319 million domestically and over $708 million worldwide, was well received by audiences, and received positive reviews from critics.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Bay returned as director and executive producer for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which was released on June 24, 2009 and went on to gross over $832 million worldwide. Although it received negative to mixed reviews by the critics, the film was well-received by its intended audience, irresistable to movie-goers and long-time fans of the Transformer franchise.[23][24] Prominent American film critic Roger Ebert aggressively panned the film, but critics from other parts of the world, such as the UK, embraced Bay's frenetic style. [25][26]It was also one of the best selling DVD and blu ray discs of 2009, second only to Twilight in DVD format and the number one for all time, in blu ray format.[27][28]

The Transformers films have grossed more than $1.5 billion domestically and $3.5 billion worldwide, a number that will continue to grow as a third film is expected in 2011.[29] As of 2009, Michael Bay's world wide box office totals make him the director with the 6th highest gross of all time.[30]

Complete filmography

Year Film Credited as
Director Producer Actor Role
1986 Miami Vice (TV series) Yes Goon #3
1990 Playboy Video Centerfold: Kerri Kendall Yes
1995 Bad Boys Yes
1996 The Rock Yes
1998 Armageddon Yes Yes Yes NASA Scientist
1999 Mystery Men Yes Frat boy
2000 Coyote Ugly Yes photographer
2001 Pearl Harbor Yes Yes
2003 Bad Boys II Yes Yes Bad car driver
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Yes
2005 The Amityville Horror Yes
The Island Yes Yes
2006 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning Yes
2007 The Hitcher Yes
Transformers Yes Yes Yes Flicked by Megatron
2009 The Unborn Yes
Friday the 13th Yes
Horsemen Yes
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Yes Yes Yes Behind Optimus Prime in C-17 Globemaster III
2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street Yes
2011 Transformers 3 Yes Yes

Forthcoming projects

Bay confirmed on 10/1/2009 that his next directing project will be Transformers 3 with a release date of 7/1/2011.[31] After that he may direct a sequel to his highly successful Bad Boys franchise or a "small" film he's been developing for years, tentatively called Pain & Gain.[32] The latter is a true crime story about a group of bumbling bodybuilders working together to commit a robbery, based on events described in a Miami Herald article written by Pete Collins.[33]

Bay is set to produce Dreamworks' I Am Number Four, based on a forthcoming series of novels by authors James Frey and Jobie Hughes to be published by HarperCollins Children's Books. D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye, Disturbia) is slated to direct.[34][35]


Bay's films usually have high commercial success but have been met with mixed reviews, primarily due to simplistic storylines and more focus on special effects than character development. However, Bay has received five MTV Movie Awards: Best Movie and Best Summer Movie You Haven't Seen Yet for Transformers, Best Action Scene for Pearl Harbor, Best Action Scene for Bad Boys II, and Best Action Scene for The Rock. In 1994, Bay was honored by the Directors Guild of America with an award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials.[36]

Michael Bay received the ShoWest 2009 Vanguard Award for excellence in filmmaking at the confab of theater owners.[37]

Production & FX companies

Platinum Dunes

Bay founded this production house with Brad Fuller and Andrew Form in 2001. Their first film, a remake of the 1974 classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, netted over $110 million dollars worldwide and instantly put Platinum Dunes on the map.[38] They continue to produce mostly successful remakes of classic horror films and bring new film makers including Sam Bayer (a music video director like himself) and Marcus Nispel into the spotlight.[39] With budgets still hovering around $20 million dollars their most recent film, Friday the 13th was a great success grossing over $90 million dollars worldwide.[40] A remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street starring Jackie Earl Haley will hit theatres in the spring of 2010. The profitable genre house has attracted Paramount Pictures, which signed a first look deal with Platinum Dunes in 2009.[41]

Digital Domain

In 2006, Bay and Wyndcrest Holdings acquired the award-winning special effects company Digital Domain from James Cameron and Stan Winston.[42]

The Institute

After leaving Propaganda Films, Bay and producer Scott Gardenhour, also formerly at Propaganda, formed The Institute for the Development of Enhanced Perceptual Awareness[43] (now known as The Institute, to produce commercials and other projects. Through The Institute, Bay has directed and produced spots for Victoria's Secret, Lexus, Budweiser, Reebok, Mercedes Benz, and Nike. His most recent ad for Victoria Secret was the 2009 "One Gift" holiday campaign.[44]

References in popular culture

In 2008 Bay spoofed himself in an advertisement for the Commonwealth Bank in Australia[45], and again for a Verizon FiOS commercial, where he detonates various items within his home that he deemed "awesome" with special effects explosives.[46]

Michael Bay was replicated in cartoon during South Park's Imaginationland Episode I. Bay, M. Night Shyamalan, and Mel Gibson are asked by the Pentagon to think of a way to rescue the collective human imagination from the terrorists holding it captive. Bay is dismissed because his plans "are not ideas, they're special effects."[47]


  1. ^ The Michael Bay Explosion Tournament Schumacker P. and Sobel I. 6/23/09
  2. ^ Box Office Mojo + calculator
  3. ^ Transformers 3 Shooting To Begin This May at 1/13/10
  4. ^ The Institute
  5. ^ Digital Domain
  6. ^ Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes Rebooting A Nightmare on Elm Street at Billington, A. 1/30/08
  7. ^ Michael Bay Biography (1965-)
  8. ^ Michael Bay Afraid to Offend Leonard Nimoy With Transformers Family Reunion Offer at Carroll, L. 4/21/09
  9. ^ Michael Bay, master of the 'huge canvas' in the Los Angeles Times Boucher, G. 5/24/09
  10. ^ 'Transformers' blasts back: Another Michael Bay direct hit at USA Today Breznican, A. 6/18/09
  11. ^ Rolling Stone
  12. ^ Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor reprinted at Michael Bay Elrick, T.
  13. ^ Michael Bay - official bio
  14. ^ Criterion
  15. ^ Michael Bay - newsblog
  16. ^ IMDB - Internet Movie Database
  17. ^ Is Michael Bay the Devil? retrieved from Michael Bay - articles originally published in Entertainment Weekly Hochman, D. 7/10/98
  18. ^ AMC TV
  19. ^ The Inspiration
  20. ^ IMDB
  21. ^ You Call This Paradise? retrieved from Michael Bay - articles, originally published in the Los Angeles Times Horn, J. 7/17/95
  22. ^ Box Office Mojo - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  23. ^ Deadline from Move
  24. ^ Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Falls Short from Time Pols, M. 6/24/09
  25. ^ Roger Ebert - official site
  26. ^ 'Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen' Earns Rave Reviews In U.K. from MTV Ditzian, E. 6/15/09
  27. ^ Numbers
  28. ^ EndGadget
  29. ^ Michael Bay - newsblog
  30. ^ PEOPLE INDEX - Box Office Mojo
  31. ^ Transformers 3 Set for 2011 at The Film Stage Barr, M. 10/1/09
  32. ^ Michael Bay - newsblog
  33. ^ Pain & Gain at Miami News Collins, P. 12/23/99
  34. ^ "Disturbia" director counts on "Four" from Reuters Kit, B. 1/20/10
  35. ^ HarperCollins Buys Series From James Frey at the New York Times Rich, M. 7/1/09
  36. ^ "DGA website". 
  37. ^ "Variety". 
  38. ^ Box Office Mojo
  39. ^ Platinum Dunes (at Bloody Disgusting)
  40. ^ Box Office Mojo - Friday the 13th
  41. ^ Paramount signs with Platinum Dunes from Variety Fleming, M. 10/6/09
  42. ^ Digital Domain
  43. ^ The Institute
  44. ^ - Bay's Official Page
  45. ^ YouTube
  46. ^ YouTube
  47. ^ South Park Studios - clips

External links

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