Hasbro and Paramount’s toy-based movie franchise returns in a big way next summer with Transformers: The Last Knight, the first film in the series spawned from the creation of an impressive writers room of top Hollywood talent. This group of creators and their ideas for the future helped convince director Michael Bay to return again to helm the fifth installment.
And while Transformers: The Last Knight is indeed the fifth movie and features many familiar characters, it’s also an entry point for new viewers and a launchpad for future spinoffs. If you didn’t already know, Transformers is very soon going to become its own shared cinematic universe for Paramount Pictures as the studio takes a few pages out of the Disney-Lucasfilm-Marvel playbook. There’s already a Transformers spinoff scheduled for just one year after The Last Knight and it centers on the fan-fave friendly Autobot Bumblebee.
Fans following the interesting development and news surrounding future plans of the series may already know this, but what you don’t know is that there was an idea for an R-rated version of Bumblebee as well. It’s not happening (yet) by Michael Bay thinks it’d sure be fun to explore that potential. While visiting the set of Transformers: The Last Knight earlier this year our own Ben Kendrick had the chance to join in on a conversation with Bay about this very topic where the director revealed the following:
“There’s actually one idea that would be really fun R-rated. With Bumblebee. I don’t wanna say what, but it would be really fun. It could be fun. Very Quentin [Tarantino].”
When pressed about the idea of a not-for-kids movie based on a totally-for-kids toy license, Bay continued, “I don’t wanna say, but it would be really fun.” Refusing to share specifics, the group of journalists on set asked if this R-rated Transformers pitch came from the writers room.
For a franchise banking on billion dollar international hits with every entry, is this even realistic at this point? Hasbro makes even more of their revenue from licensing and merchandising since Transformers is one of their flagship brands and cutting off youth could significantly reduce their licensing potential. Bay relayed that same unfortunately reality by adding, “No, because Hasbro. I mean, you can’t really.”
That being said, if the plan is to scale up the film franchise series into a “cinematic universe” with annualized theatrical releases – like every studio is attempting to in the wake of Marvel Studios’ precedent-setting success – in order to maximize appeal and cater to different target demographics, it’s becoming increasingly important to try new and different things.
Twentieth Century Fox for instance, saw their biggest superhero success story in early 2016 by letting go of the strict creative control reins of the X-Men franchise just enough so that producer and star Ryan Reynolds and director Tim Miller could make and off-the-wall R-rated Deadpool movie that shattered numerous box office records on a moderate budget. And it is also a popular licensing source for Marvel despite its for-adults movie.
For Paramount Pictures and the Hasbro toy company, they may not be there quite yet since the next two years represent just the beginning of their long-term plan, but their grand efforts toward blowing out the Transformers franchise into something even bigger than it already may benefit from some bold and different style of movies. After all, the kids who saw Transformers 1 when it opened in 2017 are teenagers or in their twenties at this point and any fans of the original series are far beyond that.
But how do you even make an R-rated Transformers movie? Add human gore, sexual content and/or vulgar alien language?