Sony Pictures Thought "Bad Boys" Would Tank Because "2 Black Actors Don't Sell Overseas"

BYErika Marie7.0K Views
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Michael Bay, Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Bad Boys
"Bad Boys" director Michael Bay alleges Sony "shut the power off" during the production of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence's classic blockbuster hit.

It is a franchise that spans three decades, but not everyone believed in the potential success of Bad Boys. The films have gone on to become blockbuster hits thanks to the on-screen chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, but according to Michael Bay, making the first movie proved to be a difficult feat.

The award-winning filmmaker has an extensive, star-studded resumé and is a respected member of Hollywood creatives, but when he attempted to sway Sony Pictures when he worked on Bad Boys back in the 1990s, the studio didn't think it would be a hit. According to Bay, they did their best to derail production.

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Bay caught up with Entertainment Weekly and revisited his struggle behind the scenes. Bad Boys would go on to gross $141 million worldwide while the second film brought in $273 million and the third $426 million.

“Sony didn’t believe in the movie, because two Black actors don’t sell overseas. They had no faith in it,” said Bay. “I was watching James Cameron’s ‘True Lies’ and I’m like, Oh, my god, this guy has so much money. I have only $9 million. And they shut me down, literally. They shut the power off. That’s how rude they were on this movie."

Kevin Winter / Staff / Getty Images

"Luckily I had 500 days of film set experience doing videos, commercials, working with some of the most famous athletes in the world, and that’s where you really truly know how to deal with assholes," he added. Because Sony wouldn't provide the necessary resources that they gave other films, Bay had to be creative while directing.

“I said, ‘Where’s the circle trolley? Get the circle trolley.’ And we made this round move and you guys rise up and it became a very famous shot,” Bay said. “People try to imitate it, but it was a seminal moment.” He said the film "literally changed the game on Black actors," adding, "It’s the first movie that really traveled overseas.”


About The Author
Erika Marie is a seasoned journalist, editor, and ghostwriter who works predominantly in the fields of music, spirituality, mental health advocacy, and social activism. The Los Angeles editor, storyteller, and activist has been involved in the behind-the-scenes workings of the entertainment industry for nearly two decades. E.M. attempts to write stories that are compelling while remaining informative and respectful. She's an advocate of lyrical witticism & the power of the pen. Favorites: Motown, New Jack Swing, '90s R&B, Hip Hop, Indie Rock, & Punk; Funk, Soul, Harlem Renaissance Jazz greats, and artists who innovate, not simply replicate.