Paramount Pictures kicked off their Transformers film series in 2007 with Michael Bay’s first directorial effort in the franchise – and he would go on the helm each of the subsequent followups, including the forthcoming fifth installment, Transformers: The Last Knight. However, while each Transformers film has done well at the box office, critical and moviegoer reactions have continually declined. As a result, Paramount retooled their approach to the blockbuster series following 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction.
In 2015, Paramount announced a Transformers cinematic universe and hired Oscar-winning scribe Akiva Goldsman to lead a writer’s room that would provide ideas and pen scripts for upcoming installments as well as spinoffs. The first spinoff set within the studio’s Transformers universe is based on Bumblebee, Sam Witwicky’s friend and sidekick who has been a staple of the series since the original film. Now, Paramount has hired a director for the film as development continues.
Deadline is reporting Travis Knight will direct the as-yet-untitled Bumblebee movie. Knight only has one directorial credit to his name, the Oscar-nominated stop-motion film Kubo and the Two Strings, making Bumblebee his live-action debut. Additionally, Knight will be the first director aside from Bay to helm a film in the Transformers universe.
It’s been little more than a year since Paramount dated both Bumblebee and the as-yet-untitled Transformers 6. In that time, the studio began searching for a Bumblebee director late last year, and reportedly considered a number of potential helmers including Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) before landing on Knight. Writer’s room scribe Christina Hodson (Shut In) penned the script and though details remain scarce about what the Transformers spinoff will entail, Paramount CEO Brad Grey said last year that Bumblebee will be a ‘lower-cost’ movie set within the universe.
Of course, what exactly Grey means by ‘lower-cost’ remains to be seen. The Transformers live-action movie with the smallest budget was Bay’s original 2007 film, which reportedly cost $150 million. Conversely, the most expensive installment so far is Age of Extinction with a $210 million price tag, but it has yet to be revealed how much Bay was given to work with on Transformers: The Last Knight. Perhaps the Bumblebee spinoff will be given a budget closer to that of the original Transformers movie – or even less, though considering the amount of CGI and VFX needed to bring Bumblebee to life, the price tag won’t be too low.
All that aside, Bumblebee will also be the first spinoff set within a franchise that has so far stuck to a linear storyline. As a result, it’s in a similar situation to last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – though, of course, the Star Wars franchise has been around much longer and arguably has a great deal more goodwill among fans. Still, Bumblebee will be the first true litmus test for whether Paramount’s Transformers cinematic universe can reinvigorate the franchise. But we’ll need to wait until 2018 before we see how Bumblebee comes together and how it’s received by critics and fans alike.