Paramount and director Michael Bay seemed to hit the reset button on the Transformers franchise after bringing in a brand new cast to Transformers: Age of Extinction. Even with new human characters, the larger story still had heavy connections to the previous three films. However, those connections nor the changing cast, has prevented Bay’s films from making plenty of money – as the last two films each grossed over $1 billion world wide.
Bay just finished filming Transformers: The Last Knight, which seems to be both bringing in new elements but also combining the previous movies’ casts together. Mark Wahlberg is set to reprise his role as Cade Yeager, but both Josh Duhamel and Tyresse Gibson are returning in their roles from the first trilogy. Nevertheless, even with the familiar faces, The Last Knight will be a new jumping off point.
Screen Rant had the chance to visit the set of The Last Knight earlier this year and talked to the people in front of and behind the camera. Among the people interviewed was producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who has served that role for every Transformers movie. One of the things the filmmakers focused on was making sure that anybody could see this movie and completely understand the story being told.
This effort was made to prevent new viewers from being lost, and it will be evident right at the beginning of the film.
Here’s a breakdown of the conversation with Bonaventura on set:
LDB: The opening of the film will introduce the exploration of the mythology that we’re going to do. Therefore, it’s not necessary to have seen the films before, because it’s going to establish the–let’s call it the mystery of the movie, and the direction the movie is going to go in.
That was a very conscious attempt, because that’s the other thing you forget as a filmmaker. Not everybody – you kind of feel like everybody’s seen it, so they can come right along for the ride. So the opening sequence, it’s been a while since I counted the pages but I’ll say ten pages, sets the mystery of the movie, of this movie. If you’ve never seen another Transformers movie, you don’t need to.
Q: Do you ever worry about getting too complex? Like the world building could expand too far?
LDB: Yes, yeah. I think that in general–forget this movie for a second, In general, I think sometimes Hollywood tries to be too smart for itself, and gets so convoluted with all of these things. The reason I like the mythology in here is that it’s very clear. It’s not “Wait–how does that work?” It’s like, “Oh, I see what it is!” And so you’re exploring something that is, in its fundamental form, very understandable. So I think in that respect, we’re not getting too complex, or too much into a pretzel.
Q: But do you think audiences will just kind of sense that, because of the way it was written, there’s a different feel to it?
LDB: No, I don’t think on that level. I think tonally we’re very similar in tone. I think Michael’s action scenes are Michael’s action scenes. Wahlberg is in this one–he was in the one before. I think just as an experience it’s going to feel different. I don’t think it’s going to feel like a different movie.
Q: Not a big break?
LDB: I don’t think so. That’s not my gut instinct about it. I think what will locate the audience is the two parallel stories that are leading to the same place, all surrounding one mythology. So I think in that way, we are very grounded. So you know, you have to use your own judgement about how you feel about that. It feels like a Michael Bay Transformers movie to me, which is great. And there’s some additional ideas and things that are able to give us a more fleshed-out world.
It is an interesting decision by the creative team to build an opening in the fifth film of a franchise to give viewers a chance to jump in – but also serves as an opportunity to refocus the mythology. After four films so far, the Transformers franchise has ventured into government conspiracies and most recently the creation of Transformium. Based on money alone, this is one of the biggest franchises currently in Hollywood, and there are sure to be viewers who see The Last Knight that will not have seen the previous films.
While the majority of the plot has remained hidden, what is so far known involves the use of Nazis and ties to King Arthur and his famed sword Excalibur. The new chapter follows Age of Extinction – which posited that the creators of the Transformers race was also responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs. The series has always delivered out of this world stories, so that should be the case again – however Bay ties these plot points together. Of course story hasn’t always been the main reason viewers watch a Transformers movie, so as long the action is on par with what Bay has delivered before, then he could be headed for another billion dollar addition to the franchise.
Transformers: The Last Knight hits theaters on June 23, 2017. Next up is the Bumblebee spin-off film on June 8, 2018, followed by Transformers 6 on June 28, 2019.