Don Murphy, who produced Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, told SCI FI Wire that director Michael Bay deserves the credit for getting the film made amid the writers' strike and for keeping the original team in place. The sequel was in development when the Writers Guild went on strike on Oct. 31, 2007, and a potential actors' strike also loomed.
"Michael was really amazing," Murphy said in an exclusive phone interview Monday. "He sat down with the screenwriters. He knew that there was a possible strike. He had his ideas, which are always very exciting, and he managed to get the script done and get the film done, strike be damned. For that, we end up with a really cool movie."
Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, John Turturro, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson return on screen, as do the voices of Hugo Weaving and Peter Cullen, for the continuing battle between Autobots and Decepticons. Revenge features set pieces on the Brooklyn Bridge and the great pyramids of Egypt. The following Q&A features edited excerpts of Murphy's interview. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opens June 24.
IMAX did so much for The Dark Knight. Now that audiences have seen that effect once, what can it do for Transformers?
Murphy: The best thing about the IMAX version is that when you get to the sequence that were specially shot in IMAX and you get a 30-foot-tall Optimus Prime, you've got a 30-foot-tall screen to see him on. That's probably the coolest. ...
How hard was it to maintain the original team for the sequel?
Murphy: Well, Michael's the captain. If Michael hadn't done the second one, I don't know how much of the original team would have come back. Even now the screenwriters [Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Ehren Kruger] are saying they won't come back, but hopefully they will.
So you're holding out hope to get Orci and Kurtzman back?
Murphy: Hopefully they will. They're really talented.
What can you tell us about that Brooklyn Bridge set piece?
Murphy: The movie's coming out in nine days. I've even been taking down spoiler reviews from my Web site, so let's not spoil it for people.
How about the difficulties of wrangling the Brooklyn Bridge?
Murphy: I didn't wrangle it, but I think it was much harder to wrangle the pyramids, which was, I think, the first time somebody had shot there in one or two decades.
How did you get the pyramids?
Murphy: You'll be amazed. Michael's movies tend to appeal to a certain aesthetic, and those people—be it the military or the Egyptians—bend over and say, "How can I help you?"
Is the second one an easier sell?
Murphy: Yes. [You don't have to] convince a bunch of studio executives that this is a good idea.
How about convincing the audience?
Murphy: I think Michael is very careful in his trailers to make sure that they saw cool things so they knew they weren't just going to get a retread, like you sometimes get in sequels.
How gratifying has it been watching Megan Fox take off from the first film?
Murphy: She's a sweet girl and very beautiful, very lovely, and it's amazing how quickly she's risen to stardom. At the same time, again, it's Michael. She'd come in and been turned down for a role in the Chainsaw remake, but he remembered her and called her in for the first movie. So you've got to give credit where credit's due.