Director Michael Bay apologized Wednesday after a trailer from his new film, Project Almanac, aired footage from an actual 1994 B-52H Stratofortress airplane crash, which left loved ones of those on board feeling as if they had to continually relive the incident on television.
The trailer for the upcoming film featured a scene in which characters watch footage of a plane crash on television. Paramount Pictures originally claimed the footage was of a crash that took place in Tokyo in 2009, but according to family members of Col. Robert Wolff and Lt. Col. Mark McGeehan, both of whin perished on board the B-52, that was false.
Col. McGeehan’s son spoke to Paramount executive Katie Martin Kelley, saying he was “disturbed” after she continued to insist the footage was not that of the B-52 that showed his father’s final moments.
“I was pretty floored after I got off the phone,” Pat McGeehan said. “It’s completely distasteful.”
The footage has now been confirmed to be that of the 1994 accident, which occurred at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State. All four men on board the B-52H Stratofortress were killed when the aircraft exploded after making contact with the ground, reportedly the result of a risky maneuver gone awry.
“I understand it’s public footage, but… not even portraying it in a true fashion is an extra insult,” Sarah Wolff, daughter-in-law to Col. Wolff, said of the studio’s use of the footage.
Bay told the Air Force Times he thought the two-second clip of the plane crash in the film was a visual effect, but became upset when he discovered first-time director Dean Israelite had instead used footage from an actual crash. He has now asked the studio to remove the footage.
The Armageddon and Transformers director’s full statement reads:
My relationship with the United States military has been very strong my entire film career. Every branch of service has appeared in my past films or TV shows. I have encountered nothing more than extraordinary brave men and women who serve our country. I’m very proud to be able to represent them professionally in my films.
Unfortunately today I learned that the movie “Project Almanac,” produced by my Platinum Dunes company, directed by a talented first-time director, used a 2-second shot in a grainy news clip of a real B-52 crash. When the director presented his cut to me, I actually thought the short clip was a created visual effect like many of the other shots in the film.
I let film directors make their movies at Platinum Dunes and give them tremendous responsibilities. Well, unfortunately a very bad choice was made to use a real crash instead of creating a VFX shot, without realizing the impact it could have on the families.
I have asked Paramount Pictures to remove this shot immediately from the picture. I want to also extend my deepest apology to the families, and also to the U.S. Air Force.
Project Almanac, will debut in the United States on Jan. 30.