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Why Did Michael Bay Recycle "The Island" Footage for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"?

By Christopher Campbell | Spout July 5, 2011 at 2:32AM

As we headed into the holiday weekend, I caught the video proving that "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" recycles two shots from "The Island." I was stunned that Michael Bay, who directed both movies, had the nerve to cheat us this way, even if the reused material is only about 1/2000th of the whole. Did he assume so few people had seen "The Island" it would pass unnoticed? Many people quickly joked how fitting this discovery is, given that -- as we saw with College Humor's recent one-minute summation of all of Bay's movies -- the blockbuster auteur is always repeating himself anyway. And it's nothing new to point out his consistency (with, say, a montage of his use of shots rotating around the hero) or his other known instance of reprocessed material (the aircraft carrier that appears in both "Pearl Harbor" and the first "Transformers"). Plus, if Disney can get away with something very similar in its animated classics (watch below), surely it's nothing for someone of lesser artistic prestige to recycle.
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As we headed into the holiday weekend, I caught the video proving that "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" recycles two shots from "The Island." I was stunned that Michael Bay, who directed both movies, had the nerve to cheat us this way, even if the reused material is only about 1/2000th of the whole. Did he assume so few people had seen "The Island" it would pass unnoticed? Many people quickly joked how fitting this discovery is, given that -- as we saw with College Humor's recent one-minute summation of all of Bay's movies -- the blockbuster auteur is always repeating himself anyway. And it's nothing new to point out his consistency (with, say, a montage of his use of shots rotating around the hero) or his other known instance of reprocessed material (the aircraft carrier that appears in both "Pearl Harbor" and the first "Transformers"). Plus, if Disney can get away with something very similar in its animated classics (watch below), surely it's nothing for someone of lesser artistic prestige to recycle.

So why was I so annoyed? Definitely not because of the fact Bay's first foray into 3D, promised as being completely shot in the format rather than converted, indeed features at least two converted shots. Maybe because I go to movies like "Dark of the Moon," if I do at all, for the promise of fresh action. And with a $200 million budget I better see stunts and effects like nothing I've seen before. It's a respectable achievement of its own how ILM was able to recycle the first shot with the addition of a tumbling Transformer. I expect that if they knew this clip would get around so much they might have also changed the armored vehicle into an RV or something, and it would have been less obvious.

In this era of viewers catching every shady thing you do (especially if they have bootlegs of your movie), I'm kind of annoyed Bay and company didn't try a little harder to cover up their teeny weeny scam. For a moment I thought maybe it was intentional, as another of the movie's winks to fans or an amusing sort of stealth product placement to get audiences to check out Bay's lowest grossing feature (domestically) now that they see it has great car chase action.

As it turns out, the reused footage has a very understandable explanation.

Some sites covering this story smartly presumed the correct reason, which I couldn't rightly deduce on my own since I don't follow production news: an on-set accident last September left film extra Gabriella Cedillo partly paralyzed, and the recycled material was used to supplement this chase sequence they'd been filming at the time. IGN apparently got a confirmation on this explanation. They also found a Facebook page set up to "Support the recovery" of the young woman and keep updated on her continuing story (her medical bills were paid by Paramount but she's suing for additional compensation), though the activity there has been little since the new year.

If only every view of the "Island"/"Dark of the Moon" comparison video resulted in $1 going to Cedillo, that would certainly be appropriate and helpful to her family. Currently the video has been watched more than 1.4 million times, which translates to a whole bunch of dough. See the video for yourself and hope she gets at least a good fraction of the amount:


I think now that we're all familiar with the recycled footage, Bay should continue reusing the same two shots in future films just as a recurring gag/wink/Easter egg/whatever. His next movie is supposedly being made on a small (for him) budget of $20 million. Seems like he could use the previously shot material to save on costs. But I'd again recommend that saved money going to Cedillo instead of Bay's pockets.

And now, as promised, here's a revisit to the montage of Disney's recycling practices, which were mainly during the years its animation studio was struggling financially. I still love "Robin Hood," which was a favorite of mine as a child, but it sure hasn't looked the same since this and other similar video made the rounds a few years back:


If anyone knows of any other movies/studios/filmmakers that recycled footage, I'd love to see more.

[via Alternate Takes]


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This article is related to: Remakes






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