After directing the universally-panned Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a sequel that suffered for being rushed and being in production just after the writer’s strike, Michael Bay was dead set on tackling a personal project of his instead of his usual big budget summer blockbuster fare.

That indie film of his would be called Pain & Gain and it’s something Bay has had his eye on for a decade. After meeting with Steven Spielberg, an executive producer on the Transformers films, Bay was persuaded to again push that film back and work on Transformers 3 next, a movie that lit up the box office this summer and introduced 3D to the series. After claiming that would be the end of his spot in the director’s chair for the series, could Bay be back again for Transformers 4? Probably.

This summer I was fortunate enough to attend not one, but two premiere screenings of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a film that we surprisingly loved for its action and epic visuals. Nokia and the good people at WOMWorld (now Nokia Connects) brought me to Michael Bay’s premiere in Miami and before the film began, he briefly spoke about the bittersweet feeling of finishing work on the third Transformers but it being his last. After the crowd boo’d at the idea of Bay leaving the franchise, he said the following which convinced me that he would be back again to direct another Transformers film in due time.

“Hey, hey, but, but, last night it opened in America and did somewhere like $50 million dollars. Now in movie speak, $50 million in one day, on a Wednesday, that’s freaking awesome so…”

If he was not even considering coming back, Bay wouldn’t be speaking in such a hopeful way. Clearly, Paramount and Hasbro want Michael Bay to return since they’d be hardpressed to find another director who can deliver on the insane and unbelievable action sequences, and he did a good job with the latest Transformers, making a lot of us forget about Revenge of the Fallen.

That was back in July and last week, at Universal Studios Singapore on Friday where Transformers: The Ride is opening, Michael Bay said the following:

“We’re talking about it, but there’s nothing right now… I’m going to do a tiny movie first, then we’ll talk about it, if I potentially do it.”

This is quite a change in tune from Bay’s denial in October and it means that Paramount is already chatting with Bay about working on the fourth Transformers, a film that Shia LaBeouf also said he wouldn’t be a part of. We already know Transformers 4 will continue the current series and its focus on human characters rather than reboot – at least, according to Producer Don Murphy.

In the current Steven Spielberg cover issue of Entertainment Weekly, interviews with Spielberg include a quote of his on Michael Bay and TF4 where he shares his hope of Bay returning.

“I hope so, because I think he made the best of the three with this last one. I certainly can’t imagine anybody other than Michael being equipped to make another Transformers. He’s invented a genre and he’s got the secret formula.”

Recent rumors had boyfriend of Transformers 3 co-star Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Jason Statham, as a potential leading man for the Transformers 4 which may even shoot back-to-back with Transformers 5. If anything, Statham’s action chops make him a good replacement for LaBeouf and a solid partner to work with Bay.

[Update: Michael Bay is in final negotiations to direct Transformers 4 under one stipulation.]

Money talks and with Transformers: Dark of the Moon bringing in over $1.12 billion at the worldwide box office, we can expect Bay to return. As for star Shia LaBeouf and series regulars Josh Duhamel, John Turturro and Tyrese Gibson, we’ll have to wait and see.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Channel News Asia, EW (via /Film)