With Reporting by Josh Horowitz
"Transformers: Age of Extinction" hits theaters this weekend, but it almost didn't exist at all.
For one, Michael Bay, returning to the franchise for his fourth time as director, nearly passed on the project. After the last film, "Dark of the Moon," Bay was outspoken about his desire to move on from the world of Optimus Prime. He even went ahead and made "Pain and Gain" starring Mark Wahlberg, a much smaller film in comparison to the "Transformers" series. Working with Wahlberg on "Pain and Gain" ultimately led right back to the robots in disguise Bay was trying to move away from.
"I wasn't sure I was going to do ['Age of Extinction'], and then Mark, while we were doing 'Pain and Gain,' said, 'I'd love to do a Transformers movie with you,'" Bay told MTV at the "Transformers" premiere in Hong Kong last week. "And I thought, 'That's a good idea.'"
The more Bay thought about it, the more he realized it made sense to return to "Transformers" for at least one more film, especially because it was intended to reboot the series and move away from the Shia LaBeouf era.
"I figured that some director is going to have to come in and redesign the entire franchise, recast it, and it would be a nightmare for someone who doesn't know it like the back of their hand," said Bay. "That's so much work. Two years to redesign every character and come up with new characters, a brand new cast… it's daunting."
It ended up being a daunting prospect even for Bay.
"We barely made the release date," he admitted. "I called the studio up and said, 'Look, I've been doing this for 20 years, and I don't think I'm going to make it.' It was tough."
With the film's release just days away, is Bay ready to start thinking about the next round of Autobot action? Far from it.
"This is so f---ing hard," he laughed. "I finished the movie 40 hours ago. You have to give me a break!"
"Transformers: Age of Extinction" opens on June 27.