Putting my natural excitement for explosions and destruction aside -- the only thing Transformers has going for it with Michael Bay at the helm -- I can't express strongly enough how ridiculous it is that Hollywood continues to turn a blind eye to the mountain of original material written every year in favor of sequels, adaptations, and licensing conversion for things like toys.
Transformers may, in the end, turn out to be a fun film, but it's not going to be great, and it won't win any awards (if you discount MTV's retarded attempts to be relevant again.) It won't be a cultural icon, it may not even turn a profit, but it saved Hollywood from having to come up with an original idea, so it got greenlit while 10,000 original scripts written this year get recycled back into printing paper.
Hasbro (yes, the toy company) apparently wasn't happy being repped by CAA, so they've now moved on to the William Morris Agency in part of a deal that will get a feature film based on their G.I. Joe toys into development.
"Our focus is on creating immersive brand experiences for Hasbro's brands," said Brian Goldner, the toymaker's chief operating officer, who is also an exec producer on "Transformers." "We felt our partnership with William Morris would enable us to activate our brands in the right entertainment forms and create those experiences over time."
So it's pretty obvious what the companies want out of it -- money. Not selling enough toys, so sell some rights, make some really bad movies, sell some more toys! But what do the studios think they are getting out of this other than a bomb in the making? They are the ones putting up the capital to make these things, now the toy companies, they have to see how self-destructive this practice is becoming.
And it has got to stop. These "entertainment vehicles" for big stars and egotistical directors are not making big profits, and they aren't in the running for awards. They gain nothing, while thousands of scripts that could become the next Star Wars don't even make it past studio readers.
I hate torture porn more any just about anyone, but you can't really argue with the Saw franchise from the perspective of an original property being wildly successful. Since theaters take half of all ticket sales, a film needs to see double its production cost to make a profit.
Transformers cost about $150 million to make, which means it needs $300 million in the box office just to break even. A film like that probably won't make that much until the very end of its run, if at all, meaning it was an incredible waste of money. Then look at Saw, where the first two films probably cost under $6 million to make, but grossed over $100 million.
Think about that. Transformers needs $300 million to break even, Saw needed $10 million. Saw made $100 million, so it was sitting on $40+ million in profit. That's huge, that money could fund another 4-5 Saws and bring in another couple hundred million in profit.
At that cost, it wasn't even risky. Distasteful plain and suffering exploitation yes, but it was a good deal to make.