Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen director Michael Bay has been compelled to send a note of apology to press and fans in Korea following controversy on his recent publicity tour.
On June 9, the evening of the Transformers 2 Seoul premiere, about 600 fans and members of the press waited in the rain over two hours for the red carpet event with Michael Bay and stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.
But flying in to Seoul directly after their Tokyo visit, the entourage arrived an hour and 20 minutes late for the film itself, and were able to spend only a few minutes with the crowd.
At the next day’s press conference, they arrived 30 minutes late and several members of the press staged a walk-out.
Bay remarked to those who stayed that distributor Paramount had not originally included Korea on the world tour plan but that he, knowing the success of the first film in Korea, had insisted upon it. This won him some points for savvy but it also brought about comparisons with the publicity tour in Japan where a larger team had spent more time.
Fox’s comments, likening actors and actresses to prostitutes, were also noted by local press. Meanwhile Fox and LaBeouf’s aloofness was compared with the behaviour of other Hollywood stars, such as Tom Cruise and Hugh Jackman, who had spent more time with their Korean fans and taken an interest in the country.
Internet bloggers started a campaign to boycott the film, with some saying “don’t go to theatres to see Transformers 2”, a potentially worrisome cry in a country with high internet piracy rates.
In his note, Bay explained his late arrival at the premiere was due to “traveling from another country, and not allowing enough time for airport delays, city traffic and hotel check-in.”
He took sole responsibility for tardiness at the press conference saying he was “in serious pain” because of a pulled back muscle.
Internet and press reaction to the apology is mixed, but local distributor CJ Entertainment is looking to leave the matter behind, confident that the film’s qualities will override the negative buzz.
“At this point, no one argues that Transformers 2 itself isn’t top-notch. There’s still a lot of anticipation around the film and ticket reservation rates are high,” said Choi Min-soo, PR manager on CJ’s Domestic Film Marketing Team.
The distributor re-released the first Transformers on five screens last Thursday, claiming 3,000 admissions over the weekend and planning to expand the release by two screens to run until the sequel opens June 24.
“Transformers took about 7.5 million admissions and we’re cautiously estimating Transformers 2 will do better than that. It should run until summer vacation without much competition until Harry Potter And The Half-blood Prince opens on July 15,” said Choi.