How Transformers: The Last Knight Transformed a Local Economy

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman calls Transformers: The Last Knight “badass,” while the New Yorker’s Richard Brody writes that the film “offers more to see and more to startle than do many films by auteurs of overt artistic ambition and accomplishment.” The film’s centered on a war between humans and the Transformers, and what’s making matters worse is the heroic, noble leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, has gone AWOL. The film ties the Transformers presence on earth to pretty much all of the most important moments in human history, and the key to keeping earth in one piece will be to uncover those secrets of the past. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), his best Autobot buddy Bumblebee, an English lord (Anthony Hopkins) and an Oxford professor (Laura Haddock) come together to try and save the world.

While we’ve been primed to look at the box office returns to gauge the success of a film, there’s another story that’s rarely told; how that film affected the communities it was shot in. For Paramount Pictures’ Transformers: The Last Knight, the fifth film in Michael Bay’s epic Transformers franchise is already a major success as far as the state of Michigan is concerned. Putting the war between humans and alien robots on screen goosed the local economy with more than $34 million, which included hiring some 700 local workers and paying them $11 million in wages. When you’re making a film this massive, you need the support and skill of the community you're filming on location in to make it happen—that’s what Michigan workers and businesses were able to provide Bay.

A film this size also means a lot of time spent in production. That meant The Last Knight spent more than 200 days on location in Michigan. That’s 200 days of rentals and purchasing (that include sports, storage, parking, shipping and other supplies), lodging, transportation, hardware, lumber, and, of course, food for the cast and crew. Production spent more than $10 million on rentals and purchases, more than $3.7 million on lodging, another $3 million for set decoration and other supplies, more than $2.7 million on transportation, over $2.3 million on hardware and lumber supplies and, finally, more than $800k on food.

While you can go to theaters today to see Transformers: The Last Knight and find out the fate of the Octimus Prime, Bumblebee and the rest of the Autobots, for Michigan, the results are already in; the good guys won.


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