"Transformers" director rips studio in leaked memo

Sun Jun 21, 2009 9:01pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Powerhouse Hollywood director Michael Bay, who returns to theaters worldwide on Wednesday with a "Transformers" sequel, has blasted the marketing efforts of the film's studio, Paramount Pictures.

In a memo sent last month to top brass at the Viacom Inc unit, and published on Sunday by celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.com, Bay complained there was no buzz surrounding "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."

"Right now we are not an event. We are just a sequel, which is very different. There is no anticipation. Remember back to 'Spider-Man 2' -- it was everywhere," he wrote.

Bay added that advance word on the $200 million robot extravaganza in publications like Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times had been an "abject failure," and he described as "lame" a plan for him to preview a small clip at the MTV Movie Awards this month.

"I cannot figure if this is a cash issue with your company? Is there some clever idea why we are not spending? I'm not sure," he said. "I'm sure though the movie will do fine, but not to your internal expectations because right now we are fooling ourselves by being cocky."

But in a second e-mail, sent June 6, Bay compared Paramount to a family and thanked the executives for "busting your butts and bringing your 'A game' for the release of Transformers."

A Paramount spokeswoman declined to comment other than to point out that the latter e-mail "clearly speaks to a differing stance than the former." Two of the top production executives on Bay's e-mail list were coincidentally ousted on Friday amid a failure to speed up production of in-house movies.

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is the follow-up to "Transformers," which earned $708 million worldwide in 2007. Bay, 44, recently told Forbes magazine that he earned $80 million from that film.

Early reviews of the latest film have been unfavorable. In Britain, where the film debuted at No. 1 this weekend, The Guardian newspaper said the 150-minute movie was "like watching paint dry while getting hit over the head with a frying pan."

(Reporting by Dean Goodman, Editing by Stacey Joyce)

<p>Director and executive producer Michael Bay poses as he arrives for the Russian premiere of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" at Novy Arbat street in Moscow, June 16, 2009. REUTERS/Mikhail Voskresensky</p>