‘They Shut Me Down’: ‘Bad Boys’ Director Claimed Sony Thought the Film Would Fail Because It Had Two Black Male Leads 

Bad Boys” became a cultural phenomenon when the film debuted in 1995. The action has spawned two sequels, 2003’s “Bad Boys II” and “Bad Boys for Life,” released in 2020. The franchise has grossed over $840 million globally.

Despite the film’s success, “Bad Boys” director Michael Bay revealed an interview with Entertainment Weekly how Sony Pictures lacked faith in the original project. The 57-year-old claimed the company felt that the Black male leads wouldn’t attract popularity overseas.

WESTWOOD, CA – JULY 9: Actors Martin Lawrence and Will Smith attend the “Bad Boys II” movie premiere at the Mann’s Village theatre on July 9, 2003 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

“Bad Boys” follows two detectives, Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, as they protect a murder witness while investigating how $100 million worth of heroin was stolen from their police precinct. It stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

Bay told the publication on April 9, “Sony didn’t believe in the movie, because [they said] two black actors don’t sell overseas. They had no faith in it. I was watching James Cameron’s ‘True Lies’ and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this guy has so much money [budget-wise]. I have only $9 million.’ “

He added, “And they shut me down, literally. They shut the power off. That’s how rude they were on this movie.” Bay expressed that because of his directing experience in less than appealing conditions, he was able to get by with the $9 million budget the company gave him.

“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 a–holes.”

“Bad Boys” generated over $141 million worldwide following its release in 1995. Of the overall box office sales, reportedly $75 million came from international territories.

Bay concluded his statement by mentioning how the film “changed the game” for Black actors. He said,”‘Bad Boys’ literally changed the game on Black actors. It’s the first movie that really traveled overseas.”

The fourth installment of “Bad Boys” and Will Smith other projects are reported to be on hold following Smith’s Oscar controversy in which the actor slapped Chris Rock for joking about the shaved head of his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

Sony Pictures has yet to respond regarding the claims by Bay.

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