But in the Transformers movie, the death toll was jaw-dropping. More than a dozen marquee characters are dispatched in the film, among them one of my personal favorites, Starscream, the Decepticon malcontent always scheming to relieve Megatron of his command.
Of course, all of this bloodshed had a specific purpose—to move toys. In the commentary track on the 20th-anniversary edition of the movie, Flint Dille, one of the writers, explains he was instructed to eliminate much of the existing product line to make room for the new characters Hasbro was planning to sell me. I already owned Optimus Prime, after all.
Listen, I make my own movies. [...] I’ve quickly become one of the biggest authorities in the world about these toys, but I tried to make this movie for non-Transformers fans.
When [executive producer] Steven Spielberg called, he basically described it as a story about a boy who buys his first car, and to me that was a great hook. I wasn’t interested in doing a stupid toy movie, but I kept thinking about that hook. It was a great launching pad, this boy’s passage into manhood.
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