Credit: U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons

Michael Bay

With his announcement that he’ll bring his slow-motion fireball walkaways to town this July for the production of Transformers 3, Michael Bay is edging out favorite sons like Christopher Nolan and Vince Vaughn as the top importer of Hollywood firepower to Chicago—though arguably the crazy Lower Wacker and LaSalle Street Batman-Joker flipping semitruck showdown in Nolan’s The Dark Knight distinguished Chicago as potentially the friendliest big city to the kind of traffic-snarling multiple-day action set pieces that are Bay’s stock in trade.

Reel Chicago (where I’m also a contributor) has reported that Bay will base Transformers 3 at the Ryerson Steel plant at 16th and Rockwell for seven weeks and shoot on the Mag Mile—details Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal couldn’t confirm at press time. Moskal did say that Bay’s operatives had scouted Chicago industrial landscapes for the first two Transformers movies, balking over budget and schedule issues. But for Transformers 3 “the call was more about downtown Chicago,” Moskal says. “From a script and a production-planning standpoint, it became far more viable.”

Bay’s company Platinum Dunes filmed the $60 million A Nightmare on Elm Street across the metro area for three months in spring 2009, and the $20 million horror flick The Unborn here for two months in 2008. And he directed a series of commercials here in 2005 plugging the AT&T/SBC merger.

Bay “likes the look and feel of Chicago,” Moskal says. “We’re certainly grateful for his repeat business.”