Bumblebee's original alternate mode in The Transformers was a Volkswagen Beetle, but this was revised to a 1976/2009 Chevrolet Camaro. This was because Michael Bay wanted to avoid comparisons with Herbie the Love Bug, and felt that the Camaro held a more tough-but-friendly quality than the Beetle. As a tribute to the series, a yellow Volkswagen Beetle appears next to Bumblebee at the car shop (and as a joke he damages it!).
According to the Director's Commentary on the DVD, director Michael Bay himself has a cameo in the film, as the human Megatron flicks away.
To keep the film realistic and under budget, the U.S. Department of Defense provided their support towards the film's production, the largest project they have assisted since Black Hawk Down. The Military provided their vehicles as the alternate modes of the Decepticons Starscream and Bonecrusher. They also allowed their F-22 and CV-22 aircraft to be filmed, the first time these planes have been seen in a feature film, other than Hulk (2003). Soldiers served as extras, and authentic uniforms were provided for the actors. In return for the favour, the filmmakers provided an advance screening of the film to the soldiers, free of charge.
Bumblebee has an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror with a Bee on it that says; "Bee Otch".
In the The Transformers series, the Autobots had blue optics (eyes) and the Decepticons had red optics. The animators created a new eye design resembling a camera shutter in order to make the robots more engaging; however, the color scheme remains the same. The only exception is the Decepticon spy Frenzy, who's got blue optics.
In the film, the name "Autobot" stands for "Autonomous Robotic Organism." In the series the Autobots were so called because their alternate modes were mostly trucks, vans, cars and other auto vehicles.
To keep up the film's frenetic mood, most of the action sequences were shot practically, with the actors performing their stunts live on camera. All computer-generated imagery was restricted only to the robots and certain essential scenes. Due to the intensity of the action (a majority of car crashes and explosions), the camera was kept in a box of bulletproof glass. Shia LaBeouf later quipped, "The camera's protected, but the actors are expendable!"
For the scene where Megatron corners Sam at the top of a tall building and Sam clings on to a statue out of sheer panic and fright, Shia LaBeouf was actually on top of the building wearing a safety harness, but with no safety net beneath him, and so his terror was real.
The bird in Bobby Bolivia's petting zoo is a ñandú, a flightless bird native to Bolivia and other parts of South America.
The film's tagline "Their war. Our world." was originally meant for AVP: Alien vs. Predator.
Throughout the film, Bumblebee communicates using his radio, in a manner reminiscent of the Junkions, denizens of the planet Junk, featured in The Transformers: The Movie, who spoke entirely in the form of television broadcasts. Notable transmissions by Bumblebee include:
The voice of Lt. Uhura from Star Trek saying "Message from Starfleet." The role of Megatron/Galvatron was previously played by Leonard Nimoy and Frank Welker, who have also both played Spock in Star Trek.
A line, "Across the inanimate vastness of space," was taken from Orson Welles's infamous 1939 radio broadcast "The War of the Worlds." Welles's final film was The Transformers: The Movie, where he voiced the planet-devouring Unicron.
A phrase from a sermon, "angels from Heaven." In Japan the Transformers are known as the "Super God Robot Force."
A line by John Wayne from El Dorado. Wayne's voice has long been associated as an influence on Peter Cullen's voice for Optimus Prime.
The fastest-selling DVD release of 2007.
From the original voice cast of The Transformers, Peter Cullen and Charles Adler were brought back. Cullen reprised his role as Optimus Prime; but Adler, who voiced the Autobot Silverbolt in the series, voices the Decepticon Starscream in the film.
Jess Harnell, Reno Wilson, and Mark Ryan have voiced both an Autobot and Decepticon. Harnell voiced Barricade and Ironhide, Wilson voiced Frenzy and Mudflap, and Ryan voiced Bumblebee and Jetfire.
In his helicopter mode, Blackout's vertical stabilizer reads 4500X. The same registration also appears on Michael Bay's privately-owned jet.
The film contains references to "More Than Meets the Eye", The Transformers's three-part pilot:
Both Sam and Optimus Prime say the title in their lines;
Megatron is frozen at Hoover Dam, referring to the first battle between Megatron and Optimus Prime (set on the fictional Sherman Dam);
and Optimus carries an energon blade and Megatron carries a flail (both used these against each other in the above battle, while not in this film).
The U.S. Department of Defense provided authentic military uniforms for the actors. The uniforms worn by the base attack survivors is the Multicam uniform of the Army's Future Force Warrior system (part of the Future Combat Systems project), and Agent Simmon's uniform holds a Combat Infantryman's Badge and the silver oak leaves of a Lieutenant Colonel (indicating Simmons was once a U.S. Army Infantry officer).
The military aircraft seen in the film did not fire a single shot during filming; all their shots were created through CGI.
There are several allusions in the film to the Hasbro Company, the official distributors of the "Transformers" toyline:
When the little girl discovers Ironhide in her swimming pool, she is holding a "My Little Pony" stuffed toy. Hasbro owns the "My Little Pony" toyline.
During the Battle of Mission City, Bumblebee and Ironhide use a "Furby" truck as a shield against Starscream's attack. The "Furby" toyline is also owned by Hasbro.
A sign reading "Takara Sushi" can be seen during the Battle, shortly after Jazz and Ratchet engage Devastator in combat. The Japanese toy company Takara was responsible for Transformers in Japan until it was sold to Hasbro.
Starscream's original alternate mode in The Transformers was an F-15 Eagle jet, but this was revised to a F-22 Raptor (In real life the Air Force has planned to replace the F-15 with the F-22). He was also given small bird-like feet to be able to appropriately transform and perform his feats throughout the film.
In the film, Megatron does not choose an alternate mode, choosing out of arrogance not to disguise himself on Earth. He instead maintains his alien protoform/jet mode. His original alternate mode in The Transformers was a Walther P38 pistol, but the writers felt it was like "having Darth Vader transform into his own lightsaber and someone else swinging him around," so he was given a more realistic alien design and made more hideous to make him more menacing.
Sam's eBay name LadiesMan217 refers to Michael Bay's birthday: February 17th. The eBay name was an actual user name with last activity at the same date the movie was released.
Sam at first believes Bumblebee is a Japanese robot. Transformers originally originated in Japan. Agent Simmons also talks about samurai, furthering the Japanese connection.
The word "transformer" is used only once in the entire film, when Ron Witwicky decides to call the City ("We got a blown transformer."). Its derivative "transform" is also heard in the film, used by Mikaela, Ratchet, Agent Simmons and Sam.
During the Battle of Mission City, when Sam accidentally drops the All Spark, an Xbox 360 being carried by a bystander converts into a Transformer. During its transformation the sounds used when an Xbox 360 boots up (and also heard in Xbox 360 commercials) can be heard.
The transformation sound from The Transformers is heard on five occasions in the movie:
Blackout transforms at the SOCCENT base
Bumblebee transforms to catch a falling Sam and Mikaela
The Nokia phone becomes a Transformer after exposure to the All Spark
Ironhide and Blackout transform in the Battle of Mission City
and Starscream flies into space at the end.
The name of Glenn Whitmann was taken from a friend of the writers. The real Glen Whitman is a Professor of Economics at California State University in Northridge, though he has also written episodes of Fringe, which was created by writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.
The Transformers official slogan, "More than meets the eye," is heard twice in the film: firstly when Sam is talking to Mikaela inside Bumblebee; and secondly when Optimus Prime makes his transmission at the end of the film.
The working title for this film and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is "Prime Directive." This was the name of Dreamwave Productions' first "Transformers" comic book, but it is also an edict mentioned in Star Trek which emphasizes avoiding interference, harmful or otherwise, in alien civilizations (which the Transformers obviously breach). Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman and William Morgan Sheppard would go on to work in Star Trek.
Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime, described reprising the role as "slipping into an old pair of very comfortable shoes that you haven't worn for a while," and was grateful to the fans for wanting and bringing him back.
In her role as Mikaela Banes, Megan Fox gained ten pounds of muscle to be more compatible for the action scenes.
In close-up shots the Transformers are sped up, and in wide shots they are shown in slow-motion. This gives them weight to their movements, as well as making them look cool. The ILM animators also watched footage of martial arts fights to get an idea on how to portray the Transformers' movements as graceful and organic as possible.
Michael Bay originally turned down directing the film, considering it "a stupid toy movie." However, he wanted to work with Steven Spielberg and wanted to make the first family film of his career, and being a car buff, the idea of sentient cars interested him. He later admitted that not being a Transformers fan proved to be a blessing, as it enabled him to introduce the saga to other non-fans.
Hasbro released several toys based on the movie's characters. These toys feature new "Automorph Technology," where moving parts of a toy in transformations allowed some other parts to shift automatically. This marks a rare time when Transformers toys are designed after the characters in the fiction, whereas normally, the toys are designed first (Although Michael Bay admitted most of the Decepticons had their appearances chosen before their characterization as Hasbro needed to get started on the toys).
Don Murphy originally wanted the film to feature seven Autobots (Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ironhide, Jazz, Ratchet, Prowl and Wheeljack) against eight Decepticons (Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Ravage, Laserbeak, Rumble, Skywarp and Shockwave). In the event, only seven of those Transformers (five Autobots and two Decepticons) made it into the film.
The female Autobot Arcee was going to appear in the film, but the writers couldn't properly explain the concept of robot gender in the film, so she was removed and replaced with Ironhide. Arcee would appear in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the writers deciding to ignore the issue of gender.
In his police car mode, Barricade's front side holds the Decepticon symbol, and reads "Pacis Quod Alcedonia" (Latin for "Still, Halcyon days of Peace") and "Incorporated since June 1865." His back side reads "To punish and enslave," a twisted version of the classic police slogan "To protect and serve."
Don Murphy originally planned to make G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but in 2003 he negotiated with the Hasbro Company for a The Transformers film instead. However, the soldiers in the film were inspired by G.I. Joe, and one of its characters is mentioned during the Scorponok Desert Attack (a pilot calls for "Falcon Opps").
The Decepticon that transformed into a MH-53 Pave Low helicopter was originally named Vortex, after the Combaticon from The Transformers, but this name was later altered to Incinerator, then to Soundwave, and finally he was christened as Blackout.
Michael Bay spent most of the film's $150 million budget on 15 practical action sequences, making sure the VFX aspects of the film did not overwhelm the live-action elements.
Steven Spielberg suggested to the writers the central storyline of "a boy and his car," and read each of their drafts and gave notes on improving the story. Spielberg also encouraged Michael Bay to film most of the stunts live, and keep the use of CGI to a strict minimum.
According to Lorenzo di Bonaventura, working out the transformations was done with the help of a mathematical equation, which explained where each of the parts of the robot went when it become a vehicle.
To make the cars appear sentient, stunt drivers wore black balaclavas and concealed themselves from view; and wherever possible, the cars were also given tinted windows and had their interiors darkened.
According to one of the CGI artists at the Industrial Light & Magic studio, the Transformers are composed out of a total of 60,217 pieces. Optimus Prime is composed of 10108 pieces, Megatron is composed of 2411 pieces, and Bumblebee is composed out of 7433 pieces. Ironhide is the bulkiest Transformer in the film, with both his guns composed of 10,000 pieces each.
The Autobot Prowl, who transformed into a police car, was in the original script, but the writers and Michael Bay loved the idea of an evil police car and so the character was altered to become the Decepticon Barricade.
As part of the promotion campaign for the film, a special Sector 7 site was launched that featured videos showing "evidence" of Transformers having already arrived on Earth: a video featuring Grimlock destroying a construction site; Reflector transforming at a birthday party; Kickback and Laserbeak being accidentally videotaped; and a security video showing Bumblebee (in his old VW Beetle mode) transforming in a parking garage.
The Decepticon animals Ravage and Laserbeak were in the original script, but they were removed and replaced with Scorponok, a robotic animal from Beast Wars: Transformers. Ravage would appear in the second film, and Laserbeak would appear in the third film.
Don Murphy brought in screenwriter Tom DeSanto to write the plot, impressed with the way DeSanto had managed the many characters and storylines in X-Men. DeSanto, a big fan of the series since childhood, carried out extensive research on the Transformers; he held several meetings with comic book writer Simon Furman; and he invited fans to discuss the film on Murphy's online message board. His treatment explored the Transformers' existence and history, as well as the real possibilities and consequences of "their war on our world," similar to a disaster film, which was what Murphy wanted the film to resemble.
During filming, Mark Ryan acted as a stand-in for the Transformers on set, to give the actors a physical presence to react to/act against. He also ad-libbed characters during the film's post-production. He was eventually taken on board to voice the Autobot Bumblebee.
The release date was set without a script or a cast.
According to one of the CGI artists at the Industrial Light & Magic studio, if you took all the polygons (CGI blocks) from all the Transformer models they created and strung them end to end, they'd reach to the moon and back and you'd still have enough left over to build the Roman Colosseum in Italy twice.
Optimus Prime speaks his trademark motto ("Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.") for the first time ever; it was not heard in The Transformers but was mentioned in the packaging for his original action figure back in the 1980s.
According to Lorenzo di Bonaventura, during the designing of the Transformers, as a test Optimus Prime was first designed in CGI in his classic boxy look from The Transformers, but he looked fake and boring. So the robots were designed in a more intricate, three-dimensional image to be more realistic and to reflect their alien origins. The major influences in these designs were real-world physics (each robot matches the size of its chosen disguise), the Rubik's Cube (numerous pieces moving to convert one thing to another) and samurai armour (going back to the toyline's Japanese origins).
Jazz's original alternate mode in The Transformers was a Porsche sports car, but this was revised to a Pontiac Solstice. As a tribute to the series, Ron Witwicky teases Sam by driving him through a Porsche dealership before taking him to the used car lot.
In the battle of Mission City, Jazz attacks Devastator and bends his gun barrel while he's in tank mode. This is similar to a scene from The Transformers: The Movie, where Kup jumps on Blitzwing when he's in tank mode and does the same thing to him.
When Frenzy transforms to the CD-player after shooting his discs, the display of the CD-player reads "NO DISC".
Since there were no running 2009 Chevrolet Camaro automobiles during production, Saleen Inc., working with the Pontiac GTO and using Camaro designs from General Motors, was able to build up a running Camaro in 30 days, to serve as Bumblebee's alternate mode. Saleen also provided one of their S281 automobiles (basically a modified Ford Mustang) to serve as Barricade's alternate mode.
Sam's ancestor, Captain Archibald Witwicky, is seen in a news article in the Air Force One computer, referred to as "Capt. Witwicky, Amundsen." This is a reference to Roald Amundsen, a famed polar explorer who embarked on various expeditions to the Antarctic region.
For the scene where Scorponok bursts out of the sand right on the heels of the soldiers, the effect was achieved by detonating a primer cord under the sand. The explosions would be in close proximity and very dangerous to the actors in the scene, so before the scene was shot, Michael Bay told the actors to run and keep running no matter what happens or else they could seriously be injured or, even worse, killed. As a result, the look of panic on the actors' faces as they flee from Scorponok in this scene is 100% genuine.
To prepare for his role as Sam Witwicky, Shia LaBeouf worked out five days a week for three months and gained 25 pounds of muscle, but he realized during shooting that Sam required agility rather than strength.
The soldiers at the beginning of the film are seen in a Bell Boeing CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Originally they were to be shown returning home in a Humvee, but during filming Michael Bay saw and requested to use the newly arrived CV-22s instead. A unique feature of the CV-22 is that its rotors tilt, so that it can change between a helicopter and a plane; with this ability to change modes, it is in essence a real life transformer.
A soldier in the film is named Jorge Figueroa. This is a reference to Don Figueroa, a writer and illustrator for the Transformers comics.
To prepare for their roles, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson spent three days in boot camp, and Gibson also spent time with combat controller Ray Bollinger to make his dialog sound natural.
The Decepticons were to have more dialogue in the film, but most of their lines were cut out to keep them mysterious (screenwriter Roberto Orci reasoned that the more a villain talks, the less threatening they are). To please the fans, though, Megatron's classic berating of Starscream ("You fail me yet again, Starscream...") from The Transformers was put in the film.
Bonecrusher's alternate mode is a Buffalo H Mine-Protected Clearance Vehicle, which comes equipped with a claw at the end of a telescopic arm. According to production designer Jeff Mann, the production design team saw a picture of the Vehicle with the claw in the foreground, which gave the impression that the claw was large enough to turn over other vehicles. But when they contacted the owners of the Vehicle to ask about using it, they were amused to learn that the claw was only 14 inches wide (it turned out the picture had been edited by Photoshop). The claw seen in this film is a ten-foot appliance the team had to construct to fit over the existing claw.
Frenzy's Cybertronian dialogue is mostly the word "Tutankhamun" repeated over and over rapidly.
Howard Stern was originally approached to make a quick voice cameo in the film, but his agent talked him out of it.
Originally, the Ark and the Nemesis, the respective spaceships of the Autobots and Decepticons, were featured in the script. Roberto Orci removed the spacecraft element, wondering "Why would aliens who moonlight as vehicles need other vehicles to travel inside?" and replaced it with the travelling protoform concept from Beast Wars: Transformers. However, the Nemesis would be seen in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the Ark would be seen in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Producer Steven Spielberg and producer/writer Tom DeSanto are both fans of the Transformers, and brought on as part of the film's crew several other fans. These included screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman; actors Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and Anthony Anderson; and many of the ILM animators.
The Transformers were created with a mix of computer-generated imagery (from Industrial Light & Magic and Digital Doman) and props (from KNB Effects). The props built include the miniature All Spark; Optimus Prime's head, chest and foot; Megatron's legs and claws; Barricade's pop-out sensors; Blackout's feet; Bonecrusher's claw; Scorponok's head and tail; a 17-foot model of Bumblebee; and a 4-foot model of Frenzy (the latter three in life-size). While ILM designed 75% of the 630 effects shots in the film, Digital Domain handled the remaining 25%, which include the Arctic discovery of Megatron, Frenzy's animated head, the machines mutated by the All Spark, and the Autobots' protoforms.
The film's visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar's favourite scene is where the Autobots hide from Ron Witwicky.
To save money, the filmmakers entered into a production deal with General Motors, saving about $3 million. The company provided the alternate modes of the Autobots (in fact they provided three versions of each car in the event that some of them would crash), and also provided around 200 cars that were blown up in the Battle of Mission City.
Simon Furman, who had written the Transformers comics in the U.K. and U.S.A, collaborated with the screenwriters to produce a graphic novel, 'Transformers: Prequel', which chronicled the events that led to the classic Autobot/Decepticon war back on Cybertron, and serves as a prequel to the events that occurred in the film. This story can be seen as a bonus feature, Transformers: Beginnings in the Wal-Mart DVD.
This film holds the record for the biggest opening week for a NON-sequel with $152.5 million. The former record holder was Spider-Man with $151.6 million.
Michael Bay described the tone of the film as "Seven Samurai fused with Close Encounters of the Third Kind and charged with 85 mph fight scenes."
The Transformer who transforms into a tank was originally called Brawl in The Transformers, but the name was altered to Devastator; Roberto Orci has stated this was an "error" which was pointed out during editing, as have Hasbro, the license holders; however, Michael Bay has stated he felt was a more destructive and appropriate name for a Decepticon. In related press materials, the Decepticon tank is called Brawl; the one in the movie is not credited under either name.
If you take a close look at Starscream, markings can be seen on his F-22 form: The tail that forms his left shoulder displays a winged sword enclosed in a shield (the emblem of the Air Combat Command) and the letters "FF 1st FW" (indicating the 1st Fighter Wing, based out of Langley Air Force Base). A part of the nose that forms his chest reveals a "flying fist" insignia, which belongs to the 71st Fighter Squadron of that 1st Wing (this squadron still flies Starscream's The Transformers mode, the F-15 Eagle). And his tail markings read "ED," which places him at Edwards Air Force Base (he is also seen among a squadron bearing "ED" tail markings).
According to Megan Fox, she was attending a 'Linkin Park' concert and when it was over the band met her personally and stated that they heard about the live-action Transformers film and requested whether they could have a song of theirs in the film. And thus the Linkin Park song "What I've Done" appears in the closing credits.
The Transformers possessed such a rich level of detail and complexity it took the ILM animators 38 hours to fill them in a single frame of the film.
Prior to shooting the scene where the Autobots intercept the Sector 7 convoy, an extra (the driver of the car where Sam and Mikeala are being held) worried that he would be injured when the agents are being disarmed by Jazz. Michael Bay assured him that no harm would come to him as the guns would be quickly pulled away by bungee cords, and were moreover made of rubber. But during shooting, a rubber gun struck the extra on his temple as it was pulled away, causing him to wince in pain (it can be seen in the film). Bay could only give a sheepish apology for the extra's misfortune.
Ratchet's alternate mode is a Hummer H2 search-and-rescue vehicle. This truck is an original Hummer vehicle built from scratch for the film and modified to have a sturdier build. The vehicle was also painted lime green to give it a distinct look (although a Ratchet toy released in commemoration of the film featured him in his classic red/white look).
Devastator's alternate mode, a hybrid tank resembling the M1 Abrams and Leopard II, was a remodeled version of the "stealth tank" from xXx: State of the Union. Michael Bay had browsed through all the tanks in the United States Military to find the right tank to serve as Devastator's alternate mode, but finally settled on the stealth tank which he felt had the proper attitude for a Decepticon (it was mean, authoritarian and weapon-loaded). Additionally, the prop tank is much lighter than a real one, which was of benefit when most on-screen action was of it driving on paved roads.
Most of the cars that were destroyed in the film had their engines and transmissions removed to make them easier to flip around.
Shia LaBeouf's first scene filmed was where Sam is attacked by guard dogs. One particularly fierce dog kept chasing him even after the scene was shot. He later summed it up as "Welcome to Michael Bay's set. Release the hounds!"
Shia LaBeouf was so amazed with the "Project Iceman" set that he would secretly visit the set on weekends, sometimes bringing his friends along.
Ewan McGregor was considered to voice Bumblebee and Ratchet.
The first scene Michael Bay shot for the film was the secret transmission from the Beagle 2 Mars Rover.
Steven Spielberg and Shia LaBeouf are fans of Bumblebee, Megan Fox prefers Starscream, Josh Duhamel likes Ironhide, and Tyrese Gibson favours Optimus Prime (all four as seen in both the animated series and the film), while director Michael Bay's favourite Transformer is Bonecrusher (as seen in the film).
Veteran voice actor Frank Welker, who voiced the Decepticon leader Megatron (among other characters) in The Transformers, was approached to reprise the role, but had to turn it down due to conflicts with other projects. Michael Bay also felt his voice was too light for Megatron's new beastly look, and so Hugo Weaving took the role of Megatron. Welker reprises his role as Megatron, though, in Transformers: The Game and the bonus feature on the DVD; he would also go on to voice several Decepticons in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Although Scorponok is the only robot in the film that does not transform, the centre of his body appears to be a General Electric T64 turboshaft engine, and his forearms are partly shaped from the side exhausts; since his master Blackout was a helicopter, this would mean he was one of Blackout's engines.
The "Moustache Man" hologram projected by the Decepticons is actually Brian Reece, a serving MH-53 pilot. He was spotted while piloting the Blackout helicopters, and both Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg thought he had the right look (mean and cold) for a Decepticon hologram. Reece had to reschedule his wedding and honeymoon to film his scenes.
When Frenzy climbs into Barricade after the attack on Air Force One, the holographic driver is wearing an Oklahoma Highway Patrol uniform.
This was the highest-grossing film in Malaysia, grossing about $5.2 million.
In the Battle of Mission City, Mikaela and Bumblebee use a GMC tow truck. This is a tribute to the Autobot Longarm, whose alternate mode in The Transformers was a tow truck.
According to the ILM animators, each and every transformation in the film is unique (even if carried out by the same robot), with thousands of components moving around in significantly different orders/sequences and via different routes around the body. This is because the robots transform in a fluid, instinctive manner depending on their circumstances (speed/terrain/intent of action); however, the animators also admit that each transformation was mainly animated to look interesting and believable.
In the scene where Secretary of Defense Keller (Jon Voight) and other military personnel are walking briskly through a tunnel, the man to his left, who is listed in the credits as a 'Four Star General', is the actor Steven Ford, the son of former U.S. President Gerald Ford.
Peter Cullen wants to own one of the Peterbilt trucks that served as Optimus Prime.
As part of the film's promotional campaign, sidewalk artist Julian Beever was commissioned to create a sidewalk advertisement for the film. Beever used props and models to give the ad a three-dimensional look, and said it was one of his most difficult accomplishments. This ad can still be seen in New York City.
Optimus Prime's original alternate mode in The Transformers was a cab over truck, but this was revised to a long-nosed Peterbilt truck. This was because test designs showed a cab over could only disguise a 20-foot robot, and so the larger Peterbilt truck was chosen to make Prime taller (at 32 feet tall). The truck was also colored blue with red flames (like Rodimus Prime, Optimus's successor), to give Prime a distinct look.
Michael Bay cut his fee by 30% to save expenses on shooting and to keep the film in the United States, territory he was familiar with.
Tyrese Gibson paid the filmmakers to get him a role in the film.
Griffith Observatory is a private area and its authorities were initially reluctant about allowing shooting to go on with the film. However, the filmmakers were able to get permission, through its officials Leonard Nimoy and Susan Bay (Nimoy's wife, whom Michael Bay is related to), to shoot the Autobots' arrival to Earth and their council. Nimoy had starred as Megatron's successor Galvatron in The Transformers: The Movie.
The Scorponok Desert Attack was shot on the site of a minefield. The area was scanned by an unexploded ordnances firm to ensure it was safe, before a Bedouin village could be constructed (which would ironically be blown up).
That was a real truck of Furbies blown up in the film.
The rock band Mute Math composed a rock version of the The Transformers theme song, but there was no suitable point to place it in the film.
Rockstar Stan Bush, who composed the soundtrack for The Transformers: The Movie, composed a song for this film, but there was no suitable point to place it in the film.
Rachael Taylor is a pacifist and wasn't enthusiastic about starring in what was fundamentally a war film, but to her surprise she had a fun time shooting.
Michael Bay's dog, a mastiff named Mason, who can be seen in the film (Miles is giving him a bath). During filming, Bay adopted another dog, whom he named Bonecrusher; he can be seen in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
The sequence where Bonecrusher smashes a bus in half was an actual stunt filmed live on camera. The bus was constructed with a split-line and had cables built in (which held the bus together until they were cut off), as well as explosives and cannons (which were used to blow the bus apart).
During the Battle of Mission City, Megatron tosses a silver-grey automobile out of his way. The license plate on the automobile says "ENERGON", which is a vital power source used by the Transformers.
To make the dialogue in the film more natural, the writers got closely involved during post-production and wrote additional dialogue for the actors and Transformers.
Michael Bay at first thought Shia LaBeouf was too old to play a teenager, having seen his performance in Constantine; but LaBeouf, with a makeover and audition, convinced the filmmakers that he could indeed appear younger than he actually was.
Darius McCrary felt honoured to voice Jazz, and claims he could feel the force of Jazz's original voice actor Scatman Crothers during his performance.
Two of the Decepticons in the film are named Bonecrusher (the mine-clearing vehicle) and Devastator (the tank). They were named after two members of the Constructicons, a faction of Decepticons in The Transformers who took the forms of construction vehicles, and who could combine into a larger robot. The Constructicons would appear in the second film, though some names necessarily had to be changed.
The Transformers are designed so that their faces/bodies resemble the symbol of their faction. The Autobots (especially Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Ratchet) were modelled according to the Autobot face; and the Decepticons (especially Megatron, Barricade and Blackout) were modelled according to the Decepticon face.
Bumblebee was designed to visually resemble a bumblebee: his colouring is yellow/black, the protrusions on his helmet resemble antennae, and the car doors fold up behind him like wings.
According to Michael Bay, the key to making those robots look real was lighting: each and every component of the robots had to reflect light like real metal. Photographs of each set were taken to use as a lighting reference to recreate the scene with the robots, and extensive use of ray tracing (a light reflection technique) was carried out. However, there were a variety of light sources (optics, headlights, lamps, sunlight, etc), which had to reflect off a variety of surfaces (which had different textures), which made ray tracing an arduous task to perform.
During the Scorponok Desert Attack, Captain Lennox calls reinforcements through a telephone. This was inspired by a real-life anecdote a soldier told Michael Bay during filming: during the Grenada invasion, a unit lost its radio in an attack, but found a nearby telephone line, so one of the soldiers in the unit helped out by giving his credit card to get through to the Pentagon.
While playing basketball, Epps mentions its legendary sportsman Michael Jordan. Jordan had starred in the sci-film Space Jam which was, like this film, an adaptation of a cartoon series (though an indirect one).
Michael Bay wanted Steve Buscemi to play Agent Simmons, but Buscemi was unavailable due to shooting other films.
Steve Jablonsky was assisted by his mentor Hans Zimmer in composing the musical score.
Amanda Seyfried and Emma Stone both auditioned for the role of Mikeala.
At one point, Agent Simmons refers to the Witwickys' dog Mojo as "your little Taco Bell dog." This is a reference to the late 1990s Taco Bell "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!" advertising campaign in the U.S. that used a talking chihuahua.
Patton Oswalt was offered, but declined, the role of Glenn Whitman.
Prior to the Battle of Mission City, the air base gives the command "Scramble!" to its pilots. This command was the last words of the Decepticon Shockwave during a battle in The Transformers: The Movie.
Michael Bay originally wanted an Apple iPod for Simmon's demonstration in the All Spark chamber, but Apple CEO Steve Jobs objected to the use of one of his products, and a Nokia cellphone was used instead.
A Decepticon named Stryker, who transformed into an armoured personnel carrier, was going to appear in the film, but was eventually cut out and replaced with the Decepticon Brawl. Stryker would instead be renamed as Wreckage, and appear in the IDW "Transformer" comics.
This was the first film to feature the Hoover Dam and the Pentagon since the September 11 2001 attacks (while Hoover Dam was not attacked, security around it has been heavily fortified since then).
This is the first time a female Witwicky appears in the "Transformers" universe. Before, there had only been male Witwickys (Spike and his father Sparkplug from The Transformers; Spike's wife Carly doesn't count).
When being chased by Barricade, Mikaela and Sam scream "We're gonna die!" This was the catchphrase of the Maximal Rattrap, who appeared in Beast Wars: Transformers. Leo Spitz would later use this line in the second film.
Peter Cullen had voiced the Autobot Ironhide in The Transformers and auditioned to reprise the role. Instead, Jess Harnell was brought on to voice Ironhide.
Originally the Matrix of Leadership was going to be the powerful artifact the Transformers were searching for, but the writers thought it sounded too similar to The Matrix and renamed it the All Spark (the concept itself was a hybrid of the Matrix, the Energon cubes from the TV series, and the cube-shaped artifact the Underbase from the 1980s comics). The Matrix would appear in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, with its purpose altered to being a key to activate the solar harvester machine.
When Megatron steps on Jazz, a squeaky toy sound can be heard.
Mark Ryan claims he didn't know the lines he recorded for Bumblebee would actually be used in the film, and had he been informed for certain, he would have given Bumblebee a younger-sounding voice.
According to Rachael Taylor, the only difficulty about her performance was wearing high heels.
As the script went through several different versions over the years, every draft of the script always included the same four characters: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron and Starscream.
Around April 2010, the CIEPE (China International Exhibition on Police Equipment) launched a fleet of their own "Ratchet" H2 Hummer vehicles.
Reno Wilson performed Frenzy's rapid, shrill chattering in real life, without any speeding-up or digital alteration.
In the All Spark chamber, Epps asks if "Nightmare on Elm Street" anti-hero Freddy Krueger had been around. Michael Bay went on to produce A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The term "Sector 7" was taken from the first ever dialogue of Beast Wars: Transformers. It was also taken from a children's storybook by David Wiesner: it was an agency that oversaw the dispatch and formation of clouds in the sky.
In Japan, the Transformers: Animated series is presented as a prequel to this film. Thus that show's Transformers are seen as young versions of the movie Transformers (while most of the characters are similar, the character of Bulkhead is treated as a young Ironhide). This is only in Japan, though; everywhere else the Animated and movie versions are kept as separate.
The character of Mikaela Banes is named after the director Michael Bay.
Ron and Judy Witwicky were named after Roberto Orci's parents-in-law.
As the Decepticons' pilot holograms flicker, Optimus Prime's face can be seen for an instant.
As the Decepticons mobilize, Blackout calls out "All hail Megatron!" IDW Comics released a series in late 2008 titled 'All Hail Megatron'.
WILHELM SCREAM: When Sam and Mikaela toss Frenzy's severed head out of the junkyard.
John Turturro claims he based his performance as Agent Simmons on Michael Bay, though Bay insists the character is nothing like him.
Corey Burton, who voiced Shockwave in The Transformers, was approached to voice Jazz and Brawl. He turned Brawl down as he didn't want a blink-and-miss voice role, and later expressed bewilderment that he would be considered for the "black character" Jazz. He was later approached to voice Shockwave in the third film, but turned it down as he'd done that role too many times.
A sign in the All Spark chamber reads "The last accident happened here 322 days ago." Michael Bay considered filming this accident as a flashback (which would also show how the claw marks appeared on the chamber walls), but decided to scrap it in favour of a present demonstration by Simmons.
The platform that Megatron stands on at Hoover Dam has a little plaque on it, which reads "Bay Foundry" after Michael Bay.
The Decepticon Soundwave was going to appear in this film, disguised as a MH-53 Lowe helicopter; later the copter was renamed Blackout and then Soundwave was going to be a Saleen Mustang automobile. However, the Hasbro Company requested that a music player, Soundwave's original alternate mode from The Transformers, be in the film, so the Saleen was renamed Barricade and the music player robot appeared as Barricade's partner. However, the writers felt the role did not give Soundwave justice, so they renamed the music player Frenzy after Soundwave's minion. Soundwave himself would get a starring role in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
According to Bob Budiansky, who wrote the original Transformers comic book series for Marvel, famed writer and editor Denny O'Neil came up with the name for Optimus Prime. Budiansky himself conceived the names of most of the other original Transformers.
Ian Bryce, Kenny Bates: Producers appear as workers/agents at Hoover Dam.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When Optimus Prime takes on Megatron in their climatic showdown, he states that "One shall stand, one shall fall!" Prime told Megatron the same thing when they clashed in The Transformers: The Movie. In that feature though, Prime was the one who fell, while in this film it is Megatron.
While Jazz does not survive the final battle, a Jazz toy released from Hasbro to commemorate the film mentioned his being rebuilt into a tougher (and better-looking) frame. He is seen alive and well in the Japanese manga adaption of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, where he participates in the Giza Guerilla, killing Long Haul and impaling Megatron's left leg with his new sword to stop him from reaching Sam, but is thrown into some ruins, where he spends the remainder of the battle fighting Decepticon protoforms.
The film's last scene is of Starscream fleeing into space. This is a tribute to the closing credits of The Transformers, which featured a scene of Starscream and his teammates Skywarp and Thundercracker blasting off into space.
The Decepticons outnumber the Autobots eight to five. This was a deliberate move by the writers to emphasize the Autobots' teamwork, and the threat the Decepticons pose to the world.
An F-22 in the Battle of Mission City blitzes Megatron. Fans suggested that the attacking F-22 was Starscream in disguise, which fits in with his classic double-crossing nature and comes up in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Writer Roberto Orci felt it was up to fans to decide if it was really Starscream, having not considered the idea when they were writing the movie.
At the end of the film, the remains of the fallen Decepticons are dumped into the Laurentian Abyss, in the Atlantic Ocean. Ironically, in The Transformers the Decepticons had as their lair an underwater abyss.
According to Roberto Orci, Ron and Judy Witwicky learned the truth about the Transformers between this film and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Megatron crashed in the Arctic and was frozen there for centuries. This parallels the fate of the Autobot Jetfire from The Transformers, who underwent the same fate. The movie comic 'Transformers: Sector 7' states that a brief encounter took place between Jetfire and Megatron in the Arctic.
According to Michael Bay, the Battle of Mission City did not expose the Transformers to the world: "Everybody has gone ahead. It's realistic. Two weeks after the 2004 tsunami nobody talked about it anymore. It's very weird. We decided to do the same with the Transformers. The government talks about a military thing, says all is false, that it's a joke; and people don't know what they really saw."
Megatron meets his end when Sam pushes the All Spark (described in the film as "raw power") into his chest. This parallels the fate of the Predacon Rampage from Beast Wars: Transformers, who received "raw energon right through his twisted spark" at the series finale.
There is a notorious scene in The Transformers: The Movie where Spike Witwicky swears during a battle ("Oh, shit... what are we going to do now?"). In this film, Sam Witwicky yells "Oh, shit!" when he encounters a Decepticon for the first time, and when Frenzy's head is sliced in half "Oh, shit!" are his last words.
The Decepticon Barricade is last seen in the film at the highway chase to Mission City. The movie's comic adaptation mentions a brief fight between Barricade and Optimus Prime, ending with Prime hurling Barricade into a concrete pillar. Barricade went on to make various appearances throughout the movie comics.
In 1973 Steven Spielberg was considered to direct Superman, and in 1998 Michael Bay was considered to direct Man of Steel. This film contains homages to the original Superman:
both films feature similar locations (a dying planet, the Arctic, an underground base, and the Hoover Dam);
a glowing green artifact from another world plays a prominent part;
a scene is directly copied where Starscream flies towards the Dam;
Optimus Prime catches a falling Sam the same way Superman saves Lois Lane (both even say the same line);
and Starscream, like Superman, flies into space at the end.
The Autobot Sentinel Prime was going to appear in the film: during the Battle of Mission City, time would stop and he would briefly appear to Sam, giving him a clue as to how to defeat Megatron. In the final film Optimus Prime provides this clue, but the concept was recycled into the Dynasty of Primes in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Sentinel Prime himself would appear in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
The prequel novel 'Transformers: Ghosts of Yesterday' provides a more complete explanation than in the film as to how the Autobots and Decepticons learned of the All Spark being on Earth: both sides encounter Ghost-1, a spacecraft reverse-engineered from Megatron and piloted by Sector Seven astronauts. Both sides learn of the All Spark and Megatron being on Earth, and have a battle that results in Ghost-1's destruction, but steers them towards Earth.