The filmmaker's Wesleyan University professor Jeanine Basinger revealed that Robert Wise's Oscar-winning classic first came to Bay's attention during a class on musical cinema.
"That class was important to him, because he realised that you're not bound by reality in film if you don't want to be," she told GQ. "And his work is about colour and movement and a kind of abstraction and unreality that is found in musicals."
Bay admitted that he was initially unenthusiastic about taking the class, saying: "I thought, 'Musicals? Ugh, what am I doing? I don't want to take a musical class. Sounds terrible.' I loved it. It was all about form, style, how they use the medium. That's what I try to do with my action."
Transformers: Dark of the Moon opens in cinemas today.
> Bayhem 101: A Transformers guide to the films of Michael Bay
Watch Michael Bay and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley discuss Transformers with Digital Spy below: