The Simultaneous Rise and Fall of Michael Bay
Posted by Brent Lee on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM By Brent Lee / June 9, 2015 Comment
Last Summer, Minnesota Connected sat down with a couple of the stars from the upcoming Transformers: Age of Extinction movie a couple weeks before it's debut. The film—the fourth in the franchise—went on to earn nearly $1.1 billion in worldwide box office revenue. It was the highest grossing film of 2014, and the twelfth highest grossing film of all time. Despite it's world-beating financial success, the movie was obliterated by critics (including our own)...This is director Michael Bay in a nutshell. If you don't recognize his name, you'll likely recognize his movies. Bay has directed some of the most well known films of the last 15 years: the Transformers series, Bad Boys 1 & 2 starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, The Rock. His unapologetically over-the-top, explosion-filled style has become his distinctive calling card, earning the 50-year old director the devotion of countless fans and condemnation from most critics. In fact, what is interesting (to me) about Bay's now two decade long career directing major Hollywood action films is his ever increasing ability to draw large audiences and earn big revenues while simultaneously creating an increasingly bad product according to the critical consensus. I graphed the ten movies Bay has directed since 1995. On the vertical axis, Bay's films are graphed according to their overall score on Rotten Tomatoes, a very popular aggregating media review site that rates films from 0-100%. The size of the dollar sign-filled bubbles represent the amount of money each of the films earned. As you can see, in the eyes of movie reviewers, Bay is steadily declining over time, hitting rock bottom critically with last summer's Transformers: AoE (currently 18% on RT). Based on box office revenue, however, Bay's career is ballooning to absurd levels of financial domination with each film he directs. The last three Transformers movies earned a combined $3.1 billion, placing Bay in the pantheon of Hollywood's highest earning directors...despite the critical awfulness of his recent films. When looking at the data, it's seems almost as if the worse his films are with critics, the more money they make among the moving-attending public.