‘Ambulance’ Director Michael Bay Scoffs at $40 Million Budget: ‘To Me, That’s Small’
Michael Bay is known for making some of Hollywood’s biggest action movies. For his new film, Ambulance — starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II — the director had a $40 million budget. Though that might sound like a huge number, for Bay, it wasn’t much at all.
Michael Bay’s ‘Ambulance’ stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Ambulance tells the story of two adoptive brothers — military veteran Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and longtime criminal Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) — who attempt to rob a bank for $32 million. But when an officer is injured during the heist, the brothers hijack an ambulance and try to save the officer while dodging explosions and gunfire.
Filming for Ambulance took place in downtown Los Angeles and wrapped up in less than six weeks. The movie also stars Eiza González, Jackson White, Garret Dillahunt, Moses Ingram, and Keir O’Donnell. Ambulance premiered in theaters nationwide on April 8, 2022.
Michael Bay says the $40 million budget for ‘Ambulance’ was ‘small’
The director made Ambulance on a $40 million budget, much less than some of Michael Bay’s blockbusters. Armageddon and Pearl Harbor each cost $140 million to make. And the Transformers movies had an average budget of $200 million per film.
Combined, Bay’s movies have grossed nearly $8 billion worldwide. So it’s no surprise the director refers to his latest release as a low-budget project. “For me, that’s small,” he said at the Ambulance premiere (via The Hollywood Reporter).
Bay is used to working on massive commercial movies. But he noted that making a film with a smaller budget allows him to get more creative.
“These smaller movies are hard because they challenge you because you’ve got less of everything, but it’s good,” he told The National. “It puts a lot of structure in the things. This is all you’re gonna get, and you’ve got to make it work.”
The director sweet-talked the police to save $400,000
Filming an action-packed flick like Ambulance on a small budget couldn’t have been easy. But admittedly, Bay isn’t the type to go over budget on his projects.
“I come on budget,” he told The National. “And I don’t like spending more than I absolutely must. On big movies, there’s so much waste it’s ridiculous. You’re creating such a big world for so many people on payroll.”
To keep his costs low, Bay knows how to work the system. In a roundtable for Entertainment Weekly, the filmmaker admitted he sweet-talked the California Highway Patrol while filming a highway scene.
“First day, low-budget movie, you have to shoot very fast,” Bay said. “To shut a freeway down, legally, on a film shoot would be about $400,000 to $350,000 and take about one and a half to two months. You would have to bring in all extra cars.”
But on the first day of shooting, while the crew was filming small scenes, the CHP was brought in for safety. Bay said some of the officers were fans of his films. So after he spoke with them, they blocked off a portion of the highway and appeared in the movie at no extra cost.
“Now, all of that is free stuff,” Bay boasted. “Sweet-talking free stuff.”