Didn’t like ‘Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen’? Blame the Writer’s Strike.
First, let’s get the opening numbers for Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen out of the way:
3-day weekend total is $112M and 5-day overall is $201.2M from 4,234 theaters. Those figures include a Sunday estimate of around $34+M mirroring that day’s -15% play on the first Transformers.
The breakdown is $40.6M for Saturday, $36.7M Friday, $28.6M Thursday,
and a record smashing $60.6M Wednesday. Included are 169 IMAX screens
which contributed a giant $14.4 million to the five day total.
Internationally, the robot sequel made $162M with a cume of $187M
including the early debuts in Japan and the UK. So that makes for $387M
worldwide, a nice haul for the 100%-owned Viacom title.
So it’s #2 off all time openings, behind The Dark Knight, in spite of brutal reviews. I mean, mind-crunchingly bad. The shortest is T:ROTFL. Some of the roughest comes from Topless Robot, who I think is taking this as an affront to robots everywhere.
But the question no one seems to be asking is: How could this movie be so disjointed, with plot holes you could fly a teleporting jet plane through? Weren’t there writers?
Actually, for a decent part of the movie’s production– no, there weren’t any writers. They were all on strike.
The Writer’s Guild of America, the union that represents all writers in Hollywood, went on strike on November 5, 2007, ending three months later on February 12, 2008. During those hundred days, writing on all movie and TV projects stopped cold, no matter where they were. Foreseeing the possibility of a strike, production companies accelerated production of films and television episodes in an effort to stockpile enough material to continue regular film releases and TV
schedules during the strike period. And one of the films in that rush period was Transformers.
With Transformers, the timing issue was even more critical. Delays for the project were deadly; a summer 2009 release date was already planned and was critical for generating the most income. The visual effects were another problem. You’ve probably already seen articles on how many years of computing time went into making this movie, and that they literally blew up servers rendering the film. Once again, very little time to spare.
So they had to go into production with what they had, and hope that they would be able to pull it all together later. Reanimate a robot here and there for new lines, and cover the rest with explosions and fast movement, and hope that the audience would be dazzled enough not to notice the problems.
And the final cost is now apparent.
Roberto Orci: We took the job with
Ehren Kruger two weeks before the strike so in that two weeks, we had
to generate a 20-page outline that we handed in, and then during the
strike, Michael and the amazing (producer) Ian Bryce tried to prep
everything they could off of that outline. Then from the day the strike
ended to the first day of shooting was three months, so we had to write
the script in those three months, handing in pages at the end of every
day so they could be prepped. It was crazy. We finished writing the
movie two weeks ago, literally.
Alex Kurtzman: Because you’re writing lines for the robots in
post. Not only did we rewrite on set but we spent the last six months
with Michael in post, cutting the movie and writing the lines for the
robots, just making jokes or making plot points more clear. Literally,
they had to just rip it out of our dead hands the other day. (chuckles)
This is not the way to make a coherent movie. Suddenly, I’m even more worried about what the G.I.Joe movie is going to be like.