Michael Bay Hails Hong Kong Despite 'Scary' 'Transformers' Attack
Director Michael Bay described an attack by a possibly deranged man wielding an air conditioner on the Hong Kong set of Transformers: Age of Extinction as "kind of scary" but insisted he would be back to shoot in the territory again.
"The Hong Kong crew was embarrassed. They even considered paying him [the alleged assailant] five times more but I said 'no,' " he said in an interview with the South China Morning Post newspaper, the leading local English-language daily.
In 10 days of filming in Hong Kong, he had to deal with two blackmail attempts, including an assault, and cope with mass protests over a TV license controversy which nearly interfered with shooting an explosion scene.
Two brothers were arrested after allegedly demanding $13,000 (HK$100,000) from the crew.
Bay said overall it was a pleasant experience and that he planned to return for at least one film or possibly more.
"Hong Kong is a very visual city," he said.
Bay, who is currently said to be shooting in mainland China's Chongqing and at the Great Wall in Beijing, insisted his decision to shoot in Greater China had nothing to do with his desire to appease Chinese film regulators and take advantage of the booming China market.
The 2011 smash hit Transformers: Dark of the Moon took $165 million of its $1.1 billion worldwide take in China.
Transformers: Age of Extinction stars Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Li Bingbing and Han Geng, and is due in theaters on June 27, 2014.
"I can still shoot in Texas and people in China are still going to see it. … You want to do something new and different. I'm tired of shooting in Los Angeles. … I almost shot it out. You need new inspiration. This is the city that I always wanted to shoot," he said.
Bay said he had been overwhelmed by Hong Kong people's concern after the attack.
"In the restaurants, in the hotel, I must have 30 people coming to me saying, 'I'm so sorry.' But it was such a silly incident," he said.
The whole Hong Kong shooting plan had taken nine months and he said he had received a lot of help from the local authorities, but it had still been a challenge.
"Hong Kong was very hard," Bay told the paper. "I've had difficult locations in my life. But shooting in the market with so many people watching … it made it very challenging."
In all, he managed to get 30 to 35 minutes of footage.
"I want to do some business in China and this part of the world," Bay told the SCMP, but said that might not be a movie yet. He got a call from Dalian Wanda group, which acquired AMC last year, but he was out of town.
He said the scripts had been sent to China's censors and that the previous installments had sailed through without any problems.
Four young Chinese actors were chosen to play supporting roles in Transformers: Age of Extinction via a reality TV show.