Even Autobots hit roadblocks. When Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opens June 24, some of the new robot heroes will take the shape of Chevrolet vehicles, part of a deal the struggling General Motors signed for the first film, released in 2007.
The arrangement required GM to supply vehicles, some forthcoming products (such as the Chevy Volt) and some fantasy concept cars (like the sleek Corvette Stingray). Some had to be constructed for the movie, and though GM's financial woes and eventual bankruptcy didn't disrupt production, director Michael Bay says it did cause some tense moments.
"They were responsible for building the cars, and I was trying to get my check because we built the cars, fronted them the money, and they were late on paying us," Bay says. "I was like, 'We better get our check fast before they go bankrupt.' "
After putting the pressure on, Bay was told: The check is in the mail, a detail that makes the filmmaker laugh. "We got it. We got it sent normal mail," he says.
Chevy won't reveal what it cost to provide cars, but spokesman Steve Janisse says 67 vehicles were used, and 52 of those were "non-salable," specially built prototypes used for testing, engineering and display.
While participating in a movie may seem counterintuitive given GM's hardships, the company says Transformers could be a big help. "Although we've significantly reduced spending around all promotions, and in this case we did not pay any placement fee, we still need to market and sell cars and trucks," Janisse says. "We know this is a good investment