Michael Bay says Sony ‘didn’t believe’ ‘Bad Boys’ because studio felt ‘two black actors don’t sell overseas’


Michael Bay reflects on the nearly three-decade legacy of the “Bad Boys” franchise and revealed that even the studio behind the film doubted its box office success.

“Bad Boys” stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as two Miami-Dade detectives who investigate a narcotics division heist. Bay alleges the 1995 action crime drama was undermined by Sony Pictures since the film had two black lead stars.

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“Sony didn’t believe in the film because two black actors don’t sell overseas. They couldn’t believe it,” Bay told Entertainment Weekly while promoting her new movie, “Ambulance.”

“I was watching James Cameron’s ‘True Lies’ and I was like, Oh my god, this guy has so much money. I only have $9 million. And they shut me down, literally,” a Bay added, “They cut the power. That’s how rude they were on this movie. Thankfully, I’ve had 500 days of experience on film sets, making videos, commercials, working with some of the most famous athletes in the world, and that’s where you really know how to deal with assholes.

And that lack of Sony resources led Bay to come up with the iconic 360-degree shot of Smith and Lawrence.

“I said, ‘Where’s the circular cart? Take the circular cart.’ And we did this round move and you got up and it became a very famous shot,” Bay said. “People try to emulate him, but it was a watershed moment.”

“Bay Boys” premiered in April 1995 and grossed $141 million worldwide. The film prompted two sequels, with “Bad Boys II” earning $273 million in 2003 and “Bad Boys for Life” grossing $426 million in January 2020.

“‘Bad Boys’ literally changed the game for black actors,” Bay said. “It’s the first film that really traveled overseas.”

The film also helped skyrocket Smith’s film career, debuting a year before the blockbuster “Independence Day.” Director Roland Emmerich also shared that 20th Century Fox was concerned about Smith’s marketability in part because of his race.

“The studio said, ‘No, we don’t like Will Smith. He’s not proven. He doesn’t work internationally. [markets]Emmerich told The Hollywood Reporter as part of the 25th anniversary oral history in 2021. Emmerich even threatened to “change studios” to Universal if Smith wasn’t cast.

Dean Devlin, producer and screenwriter of ‘Independence Day’, added: “They said, ‘You picked a black man in this part, you’re going to kill some foreigners. [box office].’ Our argument was, “Well, the movie is about aliens. It’s going to go well overseas. It was a big war, and Roland really defended [Smith] – and we finally won this war.

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