'Bad Boys II' Director Already Thinking About 'III'

Michael Bay excited by audience response to 'Bad Boys' sequel at recent test screening.

SANTA MONICA, California — "Bad Boys II" won't see release for a couple of more months, but a recent test screening went so well that director Michael Bay is already looking ahead to "Bad Boys III."

"We'll see how this one does," Bay said Tuesday at a PlayStation 2-sponsored party. "But according to the audience last Thursday when we tested it, I think [the series will continue]."

Although the original "Bad Boys" helped to launch film careers for Bay, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, it took nearly eight years to get a sequel made. Which means if "Bad Boys III" takes as long to hit theaters, "Martin and Will will be in their 40s," Bay joked. "I don't know if that's so good."

Lawrence and Smith return as flashy detectives in "Bad Boys II," this time on the trail of ecstasy dealers in Florida. Like the first film, the sequel will play upon the friendly tension between philandering Mike Lowrey (Smith) and family man Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) while sprinkling the humor with explosive action sequences. Gabrielle Union ("Bring It On") joins the cast as Burnett's sister (see " 'Bad Boys 2' Co-Star Gabrielle Union Says Flick Will Be 'Crazy Action' ").

"Will's got gray hair now, and so do I," Bay joked when pressed about the biggest differences between working with his cast now versus 1995. "Martin's got a little tummy. So we tried to hide the tummy and hide the gray hair.

"But no, the guys are great," he said more seriously. "It was really cool how we came up together on [the first] movie. Everyone's matured. It was a hard experience, but real fun."

Though movies like "The Fast and the Furious" have upped the action ante since the original "Bad Boys" was released and "Bad Boys II" will go up against a whole slew of summer sequels, the "Pearl Harbor" director isn't worried about keeping up with the Joneses.

"We worked really hard not to make this just a sequel. We think this movie really stands on its own. We have 'funny.' It's a very funny movie and it's R-rated, so it's funny you can't even show in a commercial ... It's [also] a much bigger movie [than the first], bigger in story, bigger in character development. People who saw it last Thursday thought it was much funnier. There's just tons of action. It's just really a great ride."

Bay also has his hands in a "ride" of a different sort — the ride a group of teenagers take in the upcoming remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," for which Bay served as a co-producer (see "Jessica Biel Says 'Chainsaw' Remake Will Retain Original's Spirit"). "It's done totally real, there's no camp in it," he promised. "It's frightening. It's serious. We actually just finished it two days ago."

"Bad Boys II" hits theaters July 18, while "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is scheduled for a January 2004 release.