Michael Bay Knows How to Do Your Job Better Than You Do

While we’re on the subject of Michael Bay, and because he’s such a fun whipping boy, the director has apparently taken a page from Stanley Kubrick’s book and sent a memo with his exacting projection standards for his latest ‘Transformers’ masterpiece to the nation’s theater owners. As you might expect from the man, it’s a wee bit condescending.

Deadline obtained a copy of the letter that urges projectionists to… well, to do their jobs properly. I’m sure that Bay probably believed when he was writing this that he was being friendly and enthusiastic, but it comes across a little dickish.

A “Platinum 6 version,” huh? Bay’s description of the new “post production processes” that “enhance sharpness, improve contrast, and render more vibrant colors” kind of sounds like he Edge Enhanced and contrast boosted the hell out of the photography, doesn’t it? I can hardly wait to see his signature teal and orange as even more teal-icious and orange-tastic.

To be fair, this memo comes on the heels of a wave of recent complaints about the nation’s theaters projecting movies with underpowered lamps, or otherwise failing to meet a decent standard of image quality that causes many movies (especially 3D movies) to suffer. However, I think it would have been better to let the studio write something up and leave Bay himself out of it.

The Playlist whipped up this satirical response:

I don’t have anything more to add to this. I just thought it was funny.


  1. i’m going to believe again. i’m going to believe i am not going to see this movie. 🙂

    i like the stanley kubrick memo as it involves reels and an intermission and back then during the week that movie was playing maybe 2 times 3 tops on the weekend for one theater. these are on discs now since its 3D and the projectors are digital. it’s like uh ok. and they hit the button.

  2. If anything, maybe they should tell projectionist to remove the 3D filter if its a 2D auditorium. Other than that, um, what is his letter really about? Maybe if we saw the back, but it looks simply like he is simply saying “I’ve tweaked the movie to make it look better when ran through a 3D filter”. I don’t see anything condenscending so far.

    • Josh Zyber

      If all he was saying was that he tweaked the movie to be brighter in 3D, what was the need for the memo at all?

      I think the response letter makes it perfectly clear why the original is patronizing.

  3. it should also state that when you do this task , that you bend down then get up in a slow motion like you have just been defeated , cause i use it in every one of my crappy movies. thank you. 🙂

  4. vihdeeohfieuhl

    Good for Bay! I’m glad someone is finally taking a stand when it comes to the shoddy way that a lot of theatres project 3D films (as well as 2D films in auditoriums used for 3D with the 3D lense still on).

    I’ve already seen no fewer than three films (2D) so far this summer that were being projected with the 3D lense on, and looked like crap. I know that Bay’s actions aren’t specifically combating this particular issue, but hooray for someone with some kind of influence drawing attention to the dubious actions and behaviors of theatre chains.

    Do you know how many theatre’s dim their projectors to practically unwatchable levels in an effort to try and extend the life of bulbs? This is completely unacceptable! They are only extending the life of the bulbs a negligible amount, and every film they project during that bulb life looks so bad it’s like watching a DVD at a movie theatre.

    If Michael Bay ends up being a Pioneer for something that results in movie theatre’s being held accountable for their actions, and being forced to project films in a way that delivers the best possible picture quality, he can be condescending all he wants!

    • Maybe then his letter should be addressed to theater managers instead of projectionist. I am sure no projectionist decided one day to randomly dim their projectors, it most likely came from a manager with no technical skills.

      As far as theaters, I must say, maybe its time you find a new theater chain? I ditched both AMC and Starplex for them leaving the 3D filters on, and now only go to Rave. Looks like Regal Entertainment Group is using Sony projectors as well, so I would ditch them. I was trying to figure out what kind of projectors Cinemark use, but have so far been unsuccessful.

      • vihdeeohfieuhl

        The theatres that I frequent are some of the best in the nation when it comes to 3D projection. (At least that’s what I’ve read. Who knows if it was just self serving propaganda or not.) Anyway, they do a flawless job when it comes to projecting 3D films, both in IMAX, and Real D. The problem is that they have converted too many of their auditoriums to 3D, so when they are showing 2D films in these select auditoriums, some idiot is not remembering to remove the 3D lense.

        It was never happening prior to this summer. All 3D and 2D screenings were perfect up to that point. However, with the truck load of 3D films that have came out this summer, I’m thinking that someone may have just said, “We aren’t going to waste time removing and installing the 3D lense. There’s too many 3D movies coming out to bother with it.” (Either that, or they are just utterly forgetting about the entire issue).

  5. vihdeeohfieuhl

    One more thing…

    If you think that letter comes off as a “little dickish”, you couldn’t be more wrong. I’ve read it a few times now, and tried to look at it objectively, and put myself in a projectionist’s shoes (Not hard, because I worked as one many years ago). That letter is reasonably polite, and gives every indication that he just wants to help them deliver the best possible image to audiences.

  6. EM

    The letter’s irritation factor is amped up by its poor attention to the mechanics of letter writing. I’ve seen far worse, and skill in letter writing does not necessarily correlate with skill in filmmaking. But people (sometimes) do pay attention to the way a message is delivered, and any perceived ineptitude in the means of delivery can fuel the recipient’s resistance to the deliverer’s authority. I’m sure there will be a lot of minimum-wage cineplex employees wondering why a director and a studio who lay out hundreds of millions of dollars on a single movie can’t be bothered to pay someone to check the letter for adherence to 12th-grade-English-teacher standards.

    • That “Hello I’m Michael Bay…” line does not belong there. If you have a “Dear…” line for your salutation, the “Dear…” line should be first. It‘s also a little superfluous to give the sender’s name in this sentence when it already appears at the end of the letter.
    • If you are going to have a sentence like that, separate the “Hello” from the rest of the sentence with a comma (or just omit it altogether, since the “Dear…” line is a salutation). Also, end the sentence with sentence-ending punctuation, like a period.
    • In that sentence, “Director” should not be capitalized.
    • Also, the title Transformers should be set off; I prefer italics, but I would consider the bolding used once in the body of the letter an acceptable alternative—just make all such stylings consistent. (The unstyled title appears twice in the letter.)
    • The “Dear…” line should end in a colon; this is formal business correspondence, not a friendly informal letter.
    • The phrase “dark dingy” needs some internal punctuation. I recommend a comma, but a slash/virgule might work. Also, the phrase should be connected to the word looking with a hyphen.
    • Hyphenate or close “post production”.
    • “6-foot lamberts” should be changed to “6 foot-lamberts”. The former sounds as though Bay were speaking of lamberts that each measured six feet long or tall or whatever. I’m no physicist, but even I know that’s bogus. Probably more than anything else in the letter, this makes the sender sound utterly ignorant of the topic on which he is asserting authority.
    • I see Bay’s name at the end of the letter, but where is his signature?!? I don’t expect each copy to be hand-signed, but a printed letter should have at least a facsimile of a handwritten signature. Are the recipients just not that important?!?!?

        • EM

          That’s the reward?!? Give Bay the copy, and hook him up to that viewing apparatus from A Clockwork Orange.

          Thanks, Josh. 🙂

      • vihdeeohfieuhl

        Why is that the comment of the week?

        It was simply a lesson in the dynamics of proper letter writing. Most people that consider themselves educated, are well informed when it comes to the art of writing a letter properly. There’s nothing in this comment that pertains to the situation at hand. It simply stated that Bay’s letter writing mechanics were poor.

        I believe that most of us who read the letter were well aware of the fact that it was poorly constructed, and not well written. I actually think Bay was intentionally taking an informal approach and “dumbing it down.” Or perhaps he’s just really bad at the art of letter writing. It wouldn’t be the first time that the word “dumb” was associated with Bay.

        The fact that the letter was not contructed or written properly doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not it was condescending, or whether it should have actually been written or not. I am all for anything and everything that might help us get to a point where both 3D and 2D films are properly projected to give us the best possible picture quality and viewing experience.

    • EM

      Hmm, here’s one I overlooked: the letter’s undated. Well, maybe that’s because it’s not yet ready for final-draft status.

  7. Luke Hickman

    I just find it funny that Bay actually believes that there are still projectionists. Doesn’t he know that since everything went digital, nobody is remotely close to the projectors anymore? It’s all done via a computer. You program the computer when to start the showing each week and you’re done. One local theater chain in SLC doesn’t even require you to go upstairs anymore. It’s all done from the manager’s office in the lobby. And guess who does it – the manager!

    • vihdeeohfieuhl

      That’s not the point. Even if there are technically no projectionists any longer, someone is still responsible for using the proper lense, and setting the brightness level of the projector at proper levels.

      I don’t care if nobody is actually sitting there at the projector for every screening. 3D lenses should still be removed any time a 2D feature is being screened, and a projector should always be set to optimal brightness levels to make sure that the audience sees the best possible image.

        • vihdeeohfieuhl


          C’mon now! Do you want me to go back and police many of your grammar and spelling mistakes? It’s a blog.

          Besides, read the context of it. I’m saying if nobody (meaning if there isn’t a physical body) is sitting there in the projector room.

          • I’ll admit I can’t spell worth a flip. Its just that on THIS blog topic, the use of a double negative was too great to not point at and laugh.

            Its all in fun, though! 🙂 You are one of my favorite people in these forums!

          • vihdeeohfieuhl

            Haha. Well, I felt that the situation called for a double negative, so I went for it.

            I guess you can call me Michael Bay. 😉

  8. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones…the theaters in my area (three Cinemarks and a couple locally-owned chains) don’t seem to be dialing down the brightness factor when it comes to 3D. Haven’t seen Transformers yet, but Green Lantern wasn’t murky at all and looked quite good. The 3D, that is, I can’t say the same for the acting/storyline.

  9. Mike Attebery

    This feels like the kind of memo Howard Schultz used to send to Starbucks “partners.”

  10. avidmoviegoer

    I think the “dumbing down” mentioned above is simply a reflection of the self-inflated ego that is Michael Bay. On the inside he’s still an awkward, horny 16-yr old that wants movies “go bang-bang, crash, naked-girl”, and he’s writing to the theaters as a know-it-all teenager informing his out-of-touch parents of his superior knowledge of a subject, in this case how to properly project his movie. As with most teenagers who think they know everything, he shows his ignorance in his arrogance.

  11. Eric

    What’s funny to me is the line we’re all in this together. That’s ironic since Bay is probably bringing in an eight figure check from this project while the letter is directed at people making virtually nothing. I know in my company, I feel a huge bond with the board of directors who make large sums of money sitting on their asses, while I work for the tiny sums of money I make. Why would any of them give a fuck what is good for Michael Bay or any other big budget director? If anyone responds with some cheesy integrity-related bullshit, I suggest you take a minimum wage gig for three months and tell me how cordial you feel towards ownership!

  12. I appologize in advarnse for eny typoes:

    If you’re offended by this letter, I personally think you may be bringing your own anger and cynicism to the table. Say what you will about Michael Bay movies, but a lot of companies from studios to exhibitors are risking millions of dollars every week (whether it be on the films themselves, or the new digital projectors); it’s in everyone’s interest to make them look and sound as intended.

    Because this literally affects jobs (everyone from the people who make the movies to who sells popcorn to who reviews them on Blu-ray).

    And clearly a letter like this is necessary, given the Sony-dimness controversy of a few weeks ago, and situations like what Luke was saying above. Projectionists these days, thanks to management, either don’t exist or do a piss poor job (for example, my local cinema is within spitting distance of two studio lots, and when projecting actual film, they often manage to severely scratch most prints on opening weekends).

    Are all projectionists terrible? Of course not. But as someone who has worked at movie theatres, I think it would have been awesome to get a letter from one of the biggest working film directors. And the truth is, for anyone who loves movies or works in and around movies, we are all in this together, trillion dollar paycheck or not.


  13. Evan Withrow

    Wow HD Digest. I know that you guys are movie critics and you can definitely have your opinion regarding movies and such things, but the Michael Bay bashing is getting fairly tedious on this site. I’m not a Michael Bay fan boy by any means, but maybe you guys could tone it down a little bit on the blog. I really like most of the work you do on here, but I think the Bay thing is getting a tad ridiculous. I am starting to get turned off by posts such as this that, in my opinion really bring nothing substantive to the table. Obviously you can disregard my opinion, but if things like this continue I may be disregarding your blog in the future.

    • Josh Zyber

      Evan, the man is a controversial figure who just released the biggest movie of the year. He’s fair game for a little ragging, and I can guarantee you that he enjoys the attention. I also think that we’ve interspersed in enough coverage of other topics to balance it out.

      Don’t worry, we will move on to something else when the next big movie comes along.

      • Evan Withrow

        I understand that he is a controversial figure, which obviously opens him up to some criticism. I will give you that. But just because you have other topics on the site is not necessarily justification for tireless coverage of Bay and his latest “atrocity.” If you had a couple of positive topics about Bay I would consider that more of a balancing. I guess I just tire of hearing the same thing over and over again in different forms. The negativity is rather monotonous and pretty academic at this point. We get it, everyone at the blog dislikes Bay and nearly all things Transformers. With that said I will put this topic to rest. I am a loyal fan of the blog and have been following since the day it started and will continue to do so. Just felt the need to express a little distaste. Somebody needs to keep you guys in line, haha.

        • Josh Zyber

          All I can say to that is that we are under no obligation to be “fair and balanced” toward Bay or anyone else. When he behaves like an attention-whoring ass, he brings the criticism upon himself.

          I can appreciate that you’re a little tired of the subject. However, the movie just came out, so it’s going to be a topic that people want to talk about. And I have to point out that these Bay posts have been some of our most popular and commmented-upon in recent weeks.

          But, as I said earlier, just hang in there. It’s the summner, and new big movies come out every week. We’ll have new things to talk about shortly.

  14. After reading that I got no sense of him talking down to anyone or trying to “do their job”, I have no idea how anyone can insert that crap into this letter, its very straight forward in explaining the issues with 3D and how it helps to show the movie in a certain way, I never got that he was insulting anyones capabilities, but what else is new, anything the man does just gets shit on it seems, since everyone hates the guy and his movies around here, it makes sense that this would be seen as some crazy sense of self worship from the guy, but I dont see that at all