Hasbro has confirmed that Bumblebee is indeed the beginning of a new cinematic continuity for the Transformers. Up until now, the relationship between Travis Knight's critically lauded film and Michael Bay's five movie run were left somewhat ambiguous, but Hasbro is ready to move forward in a new direction.
Following Transformers: The Last Knight's implosion at the box office, Bay left the franchise behind, leaving the big screen fate of Hasbro's most lucrative property in a perilous position. Not only did The Last Knight under perform financially, but the franchise as a whole became a sort of shorthand for the excesses of 21st century big budget filmmaking: loud, long, and with little to say. But Bumblebee recalibrated the franchise, featuring robot designs more in line with the original Generation 1 cartoon, and leaning into the themes of friendship between humans and robots that made the franchise such a sensation. And while Bumblebee was a huge hit with critics, it only produced modest numbers at the domestic box office.
Despite its box office shortcomings, Bumblebee is indeed the beginning of a new chapter. Per popular Transformers fansite TFW2005, Hasbro announced at their New York Toy Fair panel that they're treating the film as a launching point for a new iteration of the film franchise, or as they put it: "a new storytelling universe."
Initially, there was no guarantee this would be the case. There were enough subtle connections to the Bay movies for Bumblebee to stand as a prequel - not to mention the Bay films often contradict their own continuity from film to film. But this is definitely a positive development, as Bumblebee captures the spirit of the franchise's roots in ways the Bay movies never quite could, and its positive word of mouth has gone a long way toward rehabilitating the Autobots and Decepticons in the eyes of moviegoers.
It's still unclear what the next film in the series will be, however. Producer Lorenzo di Boneventura has said they plan on making a sequel to Bumblebee, but it's unclear if that would be another Bumblebee solo movie or pick up where that film left off, ostensibly at the start of the conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons on Earth. It's also unclear if Hailee Steinfeld would return as Charlie, or if a new human lead would be introduced. It's also yet to be confirmed if Knight would be interested in returning to the director's chair.
There are still plenty of questions about what the future of the Transformers film franchise will look like, but we at least know Bumblebee is going to be the starting point, so there's plenty of reason for optimism.