Marvel Studios has had a tremendous impact on the film industry, illustrating to great success the benefits of building a shared cinematic universe for your properties. The studio hasn’t just influenced rival comic book studios to do the same (Warner Bros./DC); the practice has started to leak into genres other than superhero. Whether it’s horror (Universal monsters), sci-fi (Star Wars), or supernatural action/comedy (Ghostbusters), everyone’s looking to jump into the goldmine of building cohesive movie worlds.
It seems that we can add another franchise to this growing list: Transformers. Paramount is in the early goings of putting together a brain trust to plot out the future of the robots in disguise on film, using James Cameron’s pre-production process on the Avatar sequels and Disney’s handling of the Star Wars brand as their blueprints.
The news comes courtesy of Deadline, which is reporting that the studio is negotiating a deal with Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind). Should he sign on, Goldsman would work with Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg, and Transformers series producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura to organize what is being referred to as a “writer’s room.” From there, the team would outline the story for a multi-part Transformers sequel and brainstorm possible spinoff ideas.
Though Goldsman has penned a number of major Hollywood movies (his credits also include I Am Legend and I, Robot), it is not expected (at least at this stage) that he will write one of the new Transformers films. Instead, he will serve primarily as an overseer and help bring other scribes on board, as well as craft ideas for upcoming projects. The hope is to have something finalized shortly, so Bay can get involved following principal photography on his Benghazi thriller, 13 Hours.
From a financial standpoint, it’s no surprise that Paramount wants to keep investing in the Transformers business. Though Transformers Age of Extinction marked a low point for the franchise in terms of domestic gross ($245.4 million), it still crossed $1 billion globally and turned a hefty profit for the studio. Despite slews of negative reviews, the series has certainly been able to draw in mass crowds – making it likely future films would see similar success.
It’s unknown at this juncture what any of these movies might entail in regards to the plot, but the brand is ripe for story possibilities. Even if Transformers movies need to operate within sci-fi action/adventure tropes (unlike Marvel, who can blend genres with their various characters), it has been through several iterations and has decades of mythology to build upon. When we interviewed di Bonaventura last year, he touched on the likelihood of a movie set in space and the (outside) chance of a G.I. Joe crossover. Maybe this expansion plan could be used to explore those avenues.
As such, it will be interesting to see what becomes of this development. While it would be hard to classify the previously released Transformers films as “beloved,” the source material has legions of passionate fans who would love to see it done justice on the big screen.
If spinoffs are part of the equation, it opens the door for filmmakers other than Bay to play in this sandbox – something that could (ideally) lead to refreshing takes on the property. Paramount obviously has big plans in store for this cash cow. If the studio wants to keep the Transformers brand relevant, it would be best served to push creative boundaries – and make the continuing adventures of Optimus Prime and his kind stand out from the rest of the crowd.
We’ll keep you updated on future Transformers projects as more information becomes available.
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