Bayhem has never come cheap, and the best person to back that call would be the architect of that pop cultural phenomenon, filmmaker Michael Bay. When walking the red carpet for his latest film Ambulance, the budget for the film came up as a point of discussion, to which Bay himself admitted, “for me, that’s small.” He’s not kidding, as the final price on his Universal action thriller came out to nearly $200 million less than his last Transformers movie.
This comes from THR’s own coverage of Ambulance’s big premiere, where it was confirmed that only $40 million was spent in creating Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya-Abdul Mateen II, and Eiza Gonzalez’s fast paced joy ride. For those of you playing along at home, several sources of knowledge on Transformers: The Last Knight reports that film as having an estimated budgetary range between $217 – $260 million.
As always, without exact figures on print and advertising, as well as all the other backend bells and whistles movies require, those figures may not be exact. Interestingly enough, that $40 million budget is about $8 million more than the $32 million figure Ambulance’s protagonists are trying to steal. Still, taking a look at the fast and loose history of Bayhem, the story of Michael Bay budgets is interesting to follow.
Starting with his directorial debut in 1995’s Bad Boys, a $19 million check was what got it all started. Bay would eventually jump into a higher bracket with 1998’s Armageddon, as that movie saw $140 million set as its budgetary spend on the books. It wasn’t until 2009’s estimated $200-$209 million price tag for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen that Michael Bay would climb into this much higher stratosphere, leading to an eventual plateau and two more sequels than Steven Spielberg would have recommended making.
Save for 2013’s Pain and Gain and 2016’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, the rest of Bay’s Transformers movies would stay in the $200+ million range, with The Last Knight providing the high water mark. From that point on, there was a big scaling back in spending, as 2019’s 6 Underground was made for a relatively small $150 million. Now in the age of Ambulance, a leaner/meaner Michael Bay has presented himself, and so far the results have seemed to please critics. Even our own Eric Eisenberg had to tip his hat, as in our official Ambulance review he stated that Bay has embraced his aesthetic, and plays it like a champ.
It’s not Michael Bay’s cheapest film, as that honor would go to either Bad Boys or Pain and Gain, depending on if you adjust for inflation or not. However, if the box office results speak loudly enough, perhaps we could be seeing a new age of Bayhem dawning. The thrills might be less expensive on the balance sheets, but when the images include stunts so dangerous looking they play on Instagram as well as on the big screen, every penny is worth it.
You can get a taste of the chaos for yourself this weekend, when Ambulance opens, only in theaters. Plenty more thrills and excitement await eager moviegoers on the schedule of 2022 movie releases, so don’t forget to keep your movie calendar up to date with what’s in store. As for you Transformers fans, you’ll have to wait until June 9, 2023 for the already wrapped Transformers: Rise of the Beasts to hit the big screen.