Did Michael Bay Really Apologize for Armageddon?

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 came out on July 1st, 1998 as the second of two blockbuster films that year about an asteroid threatening to destroy the Earth (the first was Deep Impact, which came out on May 8th). It was directed by Michael Bay with a screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh, J. J. Abrams, Tony Gilroy and Shane Salerno. Its primary leads were Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler.

The basic concept of the film was that N.A.S.A. trains a team of the best deep-core oil-drillers in the world to fly to the asteroid, drill into the middle of it, plant a nuclear bomb in the hole and then detonate the nuke, causing the asteroid to split into two pieces, which would then separate and pass by the Earth harmlessly. It was a massive box office success (and the film’s soundtrack was a hit, as well, including the Oscar-nominated #1 hit song “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Liv Tyler’s father Steven’s band, Aerosmith).

However, the critics were not so kind to the film. It remains one of the more derided films of the 1990s. Even one of the film’s stars, Ben Affleck, famously mocked the film on the audio commentary of the film’s DVD release (one example by Affleck – “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 for his new film 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 for the film?

The answer is a tricky one, as it really depends on your interpretation of the term “apologize for” something.

Here is the quote, from Rene Rodriguez’s article about the film for the Miami Herald:

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), from the context of what Bay is saying, 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 for the movie 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 for the film.

Bay, naturally, got upset when people began asking him questions about his “apology,” so he posted a clarification about the incident on his website. Unfortunately, Bay turned his ire on Rodriguez for misquoting him, when the real “culprits” were the people who just snipped the “I apologize for Armageddon” line from Rodriguez’s article and just ran with that alone. It was not Rodriguez’s fault. He quoted Bay accurately. It was the game of telephone that happened after the article that was 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.”

Okay, Michael, I will take that cue.

The legend is…

STATUS: False as presented (Technically true since he DID say “I apologize for Armagdeddon”).

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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