Paramount will be going back in time with their new Bumblebee spin-off film. The film is set to begin principal photography later this year, with a 2018 release date currently set. That means that Bumblebee will be hitting theaters one year after this summer’s Transformers: The Last Knight. Where that film marks the end of an era for the franchise, with Michael Bay confirming it’s his last Transformers film as director, Bumblebee promises to be the start of an entirely new age in the franchise – as director Travis Knight sets out to tell a solo story focused entirely around Optimus Prime’s beloved second Autobot in command.
As of right now, very little has been known about the Bumblebee spin-off, though, that’s likely an intentional move on Paramount’s part in order to keep audiences focused on The Last Knight until it’s been in theaters long enough. Considering just how integral Bumblebee looks to be to The Last Knight, that movie could prove to be the perfect lead-in for Bumblebee to go off and truly succeed apart from the main Transformers films.
While most plot details are still being kept under wraps, however, it looks as though the time period for Bumblebee has been revealed. Included in Empire Magazine‘s special article about the Transformers writers room from back in May (H/T Transformers 2005), the issue reveals that Bumblebee will be set in the 1980s, and will feature a much lower number of actual Transformers than any of the previous films. Based on a screenplay written by Christina Hodson, the setting will apparently help the studio skew the film towards a younger demographic than the Bay-directed outings. So far, the only reported Bumblee cast member is Hailee Steinfeld (of True Grit, Pitch Perfect 2 and The Edge of Seventeen fame).
While the time period doesn’t reveal much about the film’s story or premise, it does put the Bumblebee film into a much better context, as it allows the film to be relatively disconnected to the premise and mythology already established in the previous live-action Transformers movies. Not only that, it shows that Paramount is more than willing to jump around to different time periods and with different characters in these planned Transformers spin-offs. This should help to give the cinematic universe a fair amount of originality and diversity (if executed well), moving forwards.
Steinfeld’s character in Bumblebee is said to be a teen mechanic, and it’ll be interesting to see what state of disrepair Bumblebee is in when she first crosses paths with him, and how their relationship may or may not connect back to where he was when he was first introduced in 2007’s Transformers. Paramount has quite a bit riding on Bumblebee right now, with the studio hoping it will be the successful endeavor that helps push the other string of possible Transformers spin-offs into active development following its release. And by using Bumblebee to take the franchise back to the decade when many fans would argue it was at its best and most popular, the film could either mark the turn of the tide or the final nail in the coffin for what has proven to be a critically-lackluster property up until this point.
Source: Transformers 2005