Does anyone remember? Long before ROTF came out, Michael Bay claimed he had initiated a HUGE disinformation campain. We couldn't trust ANYTHING. Or so he said. Some people actually believed it and dismissed even the most reliable sources of information as part of Bay's campaign. Well, sure, Bay paid Hasbro upfront to have fake toy prototypes developed! Riiiight. Anyway. Let's have a look at what sort of disinfornation actually happened, and who the main sources were. (Note: Any similarities with the corresponding section at the Transformers Wiki are due to me having worked on that section.) ------------- 1) The treatment What happened: In October 2007, an alleged "treatment" for ROTF surfaced. I've never read it myself, but apparently it featured Ultra Magnus, the finale took place in Las Vegas, and Mikaela died or something. Don Murphy was quick to dismiss it as "some stupid story", whereas Micheal Bay's website administrator Nelson responded with some vague statements that it hadn't been the work of a "fan". What followed was a brief back-and-forth between Murphy and Nelson, Murphy accusing Nelson of stirring up trouble, Nelson claiming that he had better sources than Murphy and so on. Real or not: Since I have never read the treatment myself, I can't say how much it resembles the finished movie. The main plot points I've heard about don't match ROTF, but some fans claimed that there were some similarities. Who was responsible: Not sure. Nelson's vague hints suggested some fans to assume that it might have been a pitch by Ehren Kruger before he got officially hired as the third screenwriter for ROTF. To my knowledge, it has never been conclusively confirmed whether this was just a fan creation or something semi-official. ------------- 2) The disinformation campaign What happened: In April 2008, when pre-production for ROTF was winding up, Michael Bay posted on his official message board, stating that he and other people working with him would spread a lot of disinformation "to confuse everyone". The only truth known at this point was that Philadelphia would be a shooting location. Real or not: Apparently so, to some degree. But not even remotely to the degree Bay would repeatedly hint at. In October 2008, screenwriter Roberto Orci, answering a fan question at TFW2005, even stated that, as far as he was concerned, the "disinformation campaign" wasn't really working, and he and fellow screenwriter Alex Kurtzman certainly weren't sitting around laughing at fans falling for disinformation. Who was responsible: Michael Bay, mostly, giving out false information in interviews despite claiming that only what he said was the whole truth. Everything else hinged on fans believing in the existence of the disinformation campaign and dismissing genuinely leaked information as "disinformation". ------------- 3) The call sheet What happened: In June 2008, only a few days after shooting for ROTF had begun in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a call sheet for one of the shooting days surfaced on the internet. Information first revealed by the call sheet included: Actor Ramon Rodriguez (never mentioned in the context of ROTF before) would play a character named "Leo", Arcee and an Audi R8 would appear, as would a character with the working name "Stinger", and an ice cream truck just sighted on the Bethlehem set a few days earlier was hinted to be two characters only referred to as "the Twins". The call sheet also revealed that the next shooting location would be the Smithsonian, where a character named "Wheels" would appear, and an SR-71 Blackbird would be revealed to be a Decepticon named Jetfire. Then, in July 2008, Bay reaffirmed his statements about disinformation and suggested that a plethora of fake scripts, treatments, schedules and call sheets had been leaked to the internet, with fake names and fake scene descriptions on them. Even on the set, the wrong robot heads had allegedly been put on poles so not even the actors would know which robots they were actually interacting with. The only confirmed plot point, according to Bay, was Sam going to college. Real or not: Have you seen the movie? Aside from a few working names ("Stinger" for Sideswipe, "Wheels" for Wheelie), everything from the call sheet was spot on. In fact, its authenticity was pretty much confirmed a few days later, when the crew actually filmed scenes at the Smithsonian. So yeah. Who was responsible: Michael Bay, once again, was the main source of disinformation here. There was the treatment discussed above... and then there was this call sheet, which was definitely real. But where were all the fake scripts and schedules Bay was talking about? Back when Bay made that statement, some people were openly asking whether they had missed something, because there had never been any multiple scripts reported to the fandom. Lastly, about using the wrong robot heads on poles: Er, yeah. Whatever. ------------- 4) Megatron What happened: In September 2008, several designs for Megatron's new robot form and his new alternate mode, a futuristic tank, surfaced on the internet. If I recall correctly, some of the images were eventually pulled at the request of Paramount. In any case, Bay responded to these images by stating that Megatron would not be in the movie, and the images were simply due to "Hasbro coming up with a new toy". Then came the February 1 Super Bowl spot and the February teaser trailer, which featured Megatron. Screenwriter Roberto Orci soon confirmed that yes, Megatron would indeed appear in the movie. Michael Bay, on the other hand, wouldn't retract from his original position that easily: Yes, Megatron would indeed appear in the movie, but only in a flashback scene "from the long lost past". This despite the fact that Megatron could be clearly seen pinning Sam Witwicky down to the ground in the TV spot and the teaser. Also, Megatron appeared in his original movie 1 body in IDW's "Defiance" comic, which had started in January. Real or not: Yes. The painted designs were all the work of Josh Nizzi (recently revealed in their full glory on his official website). Some schematic images were also for the RPM Megatron toy. Who was responsible: Once again, Michael Bay simply denied the authenticity of genuinely leaked information, or at least their relevance, and even contradicted officially released information. And he would only retract from his original, flat-out disinformation position in several smaller steps. ------------- 5) The Fallen (and Arcee) What happened: During San Diego Comic-Con in July 2008, comic book writer Simon Furman and IDW editor-in-chief Chris Ryall were interviewed by Comic Book Resources about IDW's plans for ROTF tie-in comics. In that interview, Furman stated that a character named "The Fallen" (who had been rumored to be the titular "Fallen" prior to that) would indeed appear in the movie, and that this "Fallen" was the same character he had created for Dreamwave's "War Within: The Dark Age". Furman and Ryall also stated that they had both read the script for ROTF. A few days later, IDW writer Chris Mowry gave an interview to MTV Splash Page about his plans for the "Alliance" and "Defiance" tie-in comics. In that interview, Mowry also confirmed the character "The Fallen" as a character in the movie, as well as the Autobot Arcee (who had been previously listed in the aforementioned call sheet). Like Furman and Ryall, Mowry also claimed having read the script to ROTF. A few days later, Michael Bay once again reiterated that everything leaked up until that point had been part of his disinformation campaign, and the only genuine plot point revealed thus far was Sam going to college. Furthermore, Bay claimed that only he and a handful of people at Paramount had ever actually seen the script, thus directly contradicting the statements of two IDW writers and one editor who all claimed having read the script. A fan promptly pointed out the contradiction to Bay, including links to the interviews. A few days later, the interviews had been edited without notice, now suddenly lacking any reference to the characters of The Fallen and Arcee, as well as any reference to IDW writers having read the script. Real or not: Comic book writers reading the script (or, at least, an early draft thereof) to the film they're going to write a comic about is pretty much standard procedure. And Paramount sure wouldn't hand out deliberately wrong scripts so they would write incorrect comics. And, of course, both The Fallen and Arcee were in the movie. Who was responsible: Presumably, Bay had not been in the loop about the finer details of licensing and third-party supporting fiction up until that point. It's quite possible that he didn't know that comic book writers had seen the script - he certainly didn't know that they had blabbered about it in interviews. So when Bay made this particular statement, he possibly wasn't intentionally lying - he might have simply not known better. The damage control afterwards might have been enforced on his behalf, but might have also simply been Paramount's doing without Bay's direct involvement. ------------- Conclusion So where does this lead us to? Pretty much any disinformation about the movie either came directly from Bay, or his lackey Nelson. Everything coming from other parties such as the screenwriters, the comic book writers and even most major leaks such as toy prototypes or the call sheet were pretty spot on. Anything Bay did afterwards was damage control by declaring genuine leaks "disinformation", hoping that anyone who actually believed in the existence of an organized disinformation campaign would fall for it. Other than that, I'm sure there was the odd genuine nonsensical rumor. But then again, those could have simply been the standard cases of attention whores pulling random crap out of thin air. All Bay then had to do was claiming responsibility. There were also quite a few genuine rumors that were never officially declared disinformation. Alice the Pretender springs to mind. Though I'm not sure if that was an actual "rumor" or just an educated guess by observant fans. The bottom line: Quite frankly, I can't see any evidence for the existence of an organized disinformation campaign that goes beyond Michael Bay himself giving out wrong information in interviews and message board posts. Just a lot of damage control and "viral" hype. The main factor in the "success" of the "disinformation campain" was the fans actually believing in its existence. Assuming Bay is indeed going to direct TF3 - will he be actually able to pull this off again? Or will fans have become wiser the next time around?