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Michael Bay is Unfortunately Taking Over Steven Spielberg’s ‘Robopocalypse’

Bay has two new projects in the works, and he definitely isn’t leaving robots behind.
By  · Published on March 8th, 2018

Bay has two new projects in the works, and he definitely isn’t leaving robots behind.

We’ll always remember Michael Bay as the requisite robot guy. He may have left the gig of directing the whole Transformers series behind him, but his perennial iron grip on noisy action fare will continue on through his next couple projects. One of these taps into blossoming writing talent that we’ve been seeing around a lot lately, and another happens to be a long-gestating project that was supposed to be directed by Steven Spielberg.

Variety announced that 6 Underground and Robopocalypse will be Bay’s next two directorial efforts. 6 Underground is a project written by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, the writing duo behind the scripts for Zombieland and Deadpool who are now hard at work on Ryan Reynolds’ Clue remake. Aside from the film title, details about 6 Underground are scarce for the moment. But Robopocalypse is really the project of interest here, being “the one that got away” from Spielberg for so many years.

Way back in 2010, Deadline reported that Spielberg was due to helm a Robopocalypse movie that would be scripted by Drew Goddard (The Martian). Based on the novel of the same name by Daniel H. Wilson, the premise centers on the plights of humankind as it attempts to survive a robot uprising. Chris Hemsworth and Anne Hathaway were to star in the adaptation, which coupled with Spielberg’s directing credentials would have been great for its box office appeal. However, multiple factors led to an indefinite postponement of the project in 2013; the script needed tweaking, the budget went way over, and the story was “too important” for Spielberg and his crew to mess up.

A couple of years later, Goddard commented on his experience working on Robopocalypse, saying, “You never want a movie to get made when it’s the wrong time, and these things have a way of working themselves out.” Talk about foreshadowing, and although it’s impossible to see something like this coming, the fact that Spielberg would entrust the adaptation to Bay isn’t really the biggest surprise. They both collaborated on Transformers; Spielberg hand-picked Bay to direct the first film.

That said, Bay’s record in the Transformers franchise hasn’t been stellar in the slightest. He directed all five of them, and they consistently received poor reviews, save for the initial installment (which wasn’t exactly acclaimed either). Bay’s style of filmmaking favors explosions over plot, and the Transformers series barely scratches the surface of the narratives it’s trying to tell. That’s not a diametric opposite to Spielberg, who has obviously made blockbusters; he just does them with much more finesse.

So now we’re left wondering just how deftly Bay would be able to bring such a passion project of Spielberg’s to the screen. That and how the kind of aggressive and sexist working environment that Bay promotes on his sets leaves plenty to be desired. The news that Bay would be taking over Robopocalypse and also has a new original movie in the works comes about a month after reports surfaced of him possibly directing a Lobo movie for Warner Bros and producing a Duke Nukem adaptation that nobody even needs in 2018. In this day and age, giving him such a high-profile job seems to be in poor taste.

Transformers drew a crowd internationally even if domestic response grew increasingly tepid over the years. But hey, they’re making a Bumblebee spin-off, so something went right. David Ellison, CEO of Skydance Media (the company co-producing 6 Underground), said, “Throughout his career Michael Bay has been unparalleled in creating global theatrical events.” That’s definitely a stretch. It’s hard to say Bay is “unparalleled” when tons of other (better) blockbusters are overshadowing his films. We like you, Spielberg, but this might not have been the best move.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)