Despite its status as one of the most polarizing franchises running today, the Transformers films aren’t going anywhere any time soon. When a series brings in $3.7 billion across just four films, the studio behind it all – in this case, Paramount – tends to want to keep that cash flowing.
However, perhaps spurred by the fact that Transformers: Age of Extinction was the least successful entry domestically (still bringing in $245 million), Paramount appears to be making notable action in protecting the franchise’s future. The studio has put together a brain trust of writers – including Steven S. DeKnight (Netflix’s Daredevil) and Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) – to plot out a shared universe approach to the world of Optimus Prime and the Autobots.
IGN caught up with DeKnight at the Television Critics Association press tour and managed to touch base with him on the experience of working in the Transformers writers room, a structure usually reserved for television projects. Here’s what DeKnight had to say:
“It’s that wonderful thing where features are now taking a page from television and getting people together to really try and plan things out. It was a wonderful experience. Akiva Goldsman was fantastic and Jeff Pinkner, who’s co-writing the fifth [Transformers] movie with him was phenomenal. Zak Penn… It was just a room full of brilliant, funny, amazing people. And we spent two and a half weeks in physically the best writers room I’ve ever seen in my life. Paramount pulled out all the stops. It was phenomenal! We laughed and joked and told stories and plotted out… I can’t say what we plotted out, but it was all very exciting and in the next few months we’ll see what moves forward and what doesn’t move forward. But it was a fantastic experience. One of the best experiences of that was when Steven Spielberg popped by one afternoon to just sit and talk and hear what we were working on. Everybody was about to throw up, they were so excited.”
To the films’ critics, that creative atmosphere may sound contrary to what we’ve seen from Michael Bay’s films thus far, but it does seem like the studio is regrouping and working on creative solutions to perhaps overcoming the stigma that some fans have for the films. However, DeKnight isn’t quite sure exactly how the franchise will change going forward.
“It remains to be seen. I think the biggest thing something like that does when you’re dealing with a franchise that is so global and makes so much money is actually taking a moment to really think things out. Because a lot of the times, you go into production, you don’t have a finished script or your script is still being worked on. And it’s very difficult to work that way. I can’t imagine… Especially with the second movie, when the writers strike happened and Michael Bay had to start prepping anyway, I can’t imagine trying to prep a movie of that size and complexity and not having a locked script. And it happens all the time in movies. You just have to start because of people’s availabilities. So my hats off to Paramount for trying something new in this way and really giving this writers room thing a spin. But for me, it was a fantastic experience. I loved it.”
DeKnight’s personal experience notwithstanding, the idea of employing a writers room for Transformers could ultimately help the films refocus and build a brand that even the haters can enjoy, regardless of whether of not Bay is back in the director’s chair. After all, the biggest issue many fans have had with the films is the poor story and even shoddier characterization. Early in his career, Bay turned out several fun action movies (Bad Boys, The Rock). Perhaps with a solid narrative foundation, the next film can mark a new start for the franchise.
Transformers 5 is expected to hit theaters in 2017. Stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates on the Transformers shared universe as this story develops.