Michael Bay Explains Redesigned Transformers 4; Real Reason Probably More Sinister
Michael Bay has announced that we will see redesigned robots in Transformers 4 “to freshen the franchise,” but what is the real reason? Toys. Plain and simple.
While speaking to Forbes about his involvement in a Doritos contest, Michael Bay fielded some questions about Transformers 4. After discussing Pain & Gain, and how Bay felt doing a smaller film, the interviewer asked him the following.
Will that change the way you do anything on Transformers 4?
We’re going to start off smaller. There’s a brand new cast. To freshen the franchise we’ve redesigned everything from top to bottom. The history of the first three movies is still there, we start four years later and there’s a reason why we’re meeting a new cast.
He was then asked if this meant the latest entry in the serie should be considered a reboot.
No, that’s wrong. We keep the Transformers the way they were, it’s just four years later. There’s a reason the Transformers are redesigned. We’re trying to broaden the franchise and give it more places to go.
New cast aside – thank goodness we’re done with Shia LaBoeuf – the key here is “the Transformers are redesigned.” Bay makes it sound like this is some sort of grand plan and it’s all for the good of the franchise, but I can sum up what I believe is the real reason.
At the end of the day, the Transformers films serve as lengthy commercials for the toy line produced by Hasbro, which has a big say in these productions, make no mistake about that. While new robots have been introduced through out the films, the main ones – such as Optimus Prime and Bumblebee – have retained the same alt modes. (That’s Transformer fan speak for the vehicle modes) While that makes it easy for Hasbro to keep reusing the same molds, it also makes consumers less likely to purchase new toys with each movie. Why should anyone buy a new Optimus Prime figure when he has looked exactly the same in all three films? Yes, they added his trailer in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but was that enough to motivate people to purchase a new figure? More than likely it wasn’t.
Ratchet, the medic of the Autobots, got a new paint job in the third film, but he kept the same vehicle type. Was that enough for people to pick up a new Ratchet figure? Probably not.
Could Hasbro be asking for a change in the vehicle designs to improve sales? The third film ended up grossing $1.1 billion globally with $352 million of that coming from the U.S., surely that translated into sales.
Well, not so fast. While Hasbro sold tons of toys off the first two films, things didn’t go so well on the third. As a matter of fact, they went so badly that some of the announced toys weren’t released.
From a Tformers.com article published after last year’s Toy Fair:
We were able to confirm at Toy Fair, after seeing only Movie Trilogy Series Optimus Prime w/ Trailer on display, that the remaining Movie Trilogy Series figures will only be available in Asia and Canada.
Hasbro announced during the Media Event on Saturday that Deluxes Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Ratchet, and Soundwave will only be available in these aforementioned areas.
Seibertron.com was able to independently confirm that other unreleased figures, including the Target exclusive Leadfoot and Twin Twist two-pack, and deluxe and Human Alliance Soundwave have been cancelled.
When asked why, Hasbro said it was due to lower demand and Asian and Canada, being smaller markets, could get away with smaller orders fulfillment of the product.
I had known for some time that toy sales had not been up to snuff following the third film, and knowing the toy industry as I do, I am pretty confident it is the lack of change in the characters. There is a reason why Batman toy lines end up with 50 versions of him that you never see in the comics, movies or various animated series. Toy companies have to keep changing up action figures to keep a fresh rotation of stock on the shelves, and so Billy can go up to his mom and go, “No, I have the other Bumblebee! This is the one from the fourth movie!”
So Michael Bay can say all day long that redesigning the Transformers is about freshening up the film franchise, but at the end of the day it’s really about how many more action figures can be sold.
[ Source Forbes ]