Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.
MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Michael Bay apologized for the film Armageddon.
Armageddon opened July 1, 1998, as the second of two blockbuster films that year about an asteroid threatening to destroy the Earth (the first was Deep Impact, which premiered May 8). Directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh, J. J. Abrams, Tony Gilroy and Shane Salerno, it starred Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler. The basic concept is that NASA trains a team of the best deep-core oil-drillers in the world to fly to the asteroid, drill into its middle, plant a nuclear bomb in the hole and then detonate the nuke, causing the asteroid to split into two pieces, which would pass by Earth harmlessly. It was a massive box-office success (and the film’s soundtrack was a hit, as well, including the Oscar-nominated hit song “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith, led by Tyler’s father Steven). However, the critics were not so kind, and it remains one of the more derided films of the 1990s. Even one of the stars, Ben Affleck, famously mocked Armageddon on the audio commentary for the DVD release. (One example: “Wouldn’t it be easier for NASA to train astronauts how to drill rather than training drillers to be astronauts?”) Recently, Michael Bay came out with a new film, Pain & Gain, starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as bodybuilders who become criminals. During the press tour last month, Bay made a lot of headlines by supposedly apologizing for the much-maligned Armageddon.
So what’s the deal, did Bay really apologize?
The answer is a tricky one, as it really depends on your interpretation of the term “apologize for” something.
Here’s the quote, from the Miami Herald article:
I will apologize for Armageddon, because we had to do the whole movie in 16 weeks. It was a massive undertaking. That was not fair to the movie. I would redo the entire third act if I could. But the studio literally took the movie away from us. It was terrible. My visual effects supervisor had a nervous breakdown, so I had to be in charge of that. I called James Cameron and asked ‘What do you do when you’re doing all the effects yourself?’ But the movie did fine.
Clearly (to me, at least), he is taking responsibility for any faults with the movie, noting that he had to turn the film around very quickly, so there were things he would have changed it he had more time — but he didn’t, so he apologizes. But rather than apologizing to us, the public, Bay is instead effectively apologizing to the movie (as far as you can apologize to movies, of course) for not doing enough for it. As he notes, “that was not fair to the movie.” He’s not actually apologizing to the audience.
Bay, naturally, became upset when people began asking him questions about his “apology,” so he posted a clarification on his website. Unfortunately, Bay turned his ire on the writer for misquoting him, when the real “culprits” were the people who just snipped the “I apologize for Armageddon” line from from the article and just ran with that alone. It was not the reporter’s fault; he quoted Bay accurately. It was the game of telephone that happened after> the article that’s to blame.
On his website, Bay concluded his piece by noting, “And still today Armageddon is still one of the most shown movies on cable TV. And yes, I’m proud of the movie. Enough said.”
OK, Michael, I will take that cue.
The legend is …
STATUS: False as presented (technically true, because he DID say “I apologize for Armagdeddon“).
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