Transformers: Age of Extinction hit theaters in 2014, becoming the fourth film in the live-action reimagining of the 1980s-born sci-fi franchise. While early reviews for this instalment read much like the reviews for the previous three Transformers entries, the movie proved to be a commercial success, grossing over $1.1 billion worldwide and becoming the second best performing film in the series. Taking it as a prime opportunity, Michael Bay is now back behind the wheel again (reportedly for the last time) on Transformers 5, with filming set to begin this May. Going forward, with or without Bay, there will be at least two more movies (a ‘lower-cost’ Bumblebee spinoff in 2018 and Transformers 6 in 2019) as part of a new shared cinematic universe.
The fourth Transformers movie, touted as a soft reboot, attempted to continue the story while featuring an all-new cast, after Shia LaBeouf (Fury), Megan Fox (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Josh Duhamel’s (Las Vegas) characters were written out and replaced by Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor), who took over as the film’s new lead together with Nicola Peltz (Bates Motel) and Jack Reynor (Macbeth). As the process of filming and casting for the follow-up movie begins in London and Detroit, news has surfaced to suggest that Nickelodeon star Isabela Moner could be considered for a lead role alongside Wahlberg, who has committed to (at least) a ‘couple more’ Transformers movies.
The Wrap exclusively revealed that Moner is poised to play the Chicago-native Izabella, “a street-smart tomboy who grew up as an orphan and was raised in foster care.” The young character’s only friend is said to be that of a small Transformer, until she meets Wahlberg’s heroic inventor Cade Yeager in Transformers 5.
While Moner is relatively unknown, she is considered to be a rising star in Nickelodeon’s ranks. She currently appears as part of the main cast in 100 Things to Do Before High School and has previously provided voice work for Dora and Friends, more recently she was slated for the lead role in the cable network’s Legends of the Hidden Temple TV movie. Being 14 years old, her other screen credits are sparse, but include the J.K. Simmons comedy Growing Up Fisher (cancelled after 7 episodes) and another family-friendly TV movie, in Splitting Adam. Outside of the screen, Moner has showcased her talent on Broadway, making her theater debut in a production of Evita in 2012.
It might appear to be a risky decision to cast an unknown in a movie that is part of a blockbuster franchise. However, in this case it’s likely no coincidence that an up-and-coming star of the Nickelodeon network could be selected for the Transformers series, produced by Paramount – since both the network and studio are subsidiaries of Viacom.
While casting a well-known star can imbue a certain level of marketability in terms of publicity and attention, it’s not necessarily a recipe for success. Familiar faces are occasionally used to attract funding from studios on lesser-known productions, but the larger, pre-established and commercially successful franchises such as Star Wars, LOTR and Transformers have free reign on their casting choices, resulting in the discovery of new stars and subsequent screen successes. With any luck, additional character details and some solid casting news will follow as we edge closer to Transformers 5 production date.
Transformers 5 will open in U.S. theaters on June 23rd, 2017, followed by the Bumblebee spinoff on June 8th, 2018, and Transformers 6 on June 28th, 2019.
Source: The Wrap