Paramount Pictures is introducing director Travis Knight in a new featurette for the Transformers spinoff Bumblebee. Launched in 2007 by director Michael Bay, the live-action Transformers series had a successful four-film run until 2014, with the chapters three and four - Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction - reaching the franchise's box office pinnacles with global grosses of more than $1.1 billion each. The franchise hit the wall both financially and critically, though, with The Last Knight, which ended Bay's five-film directorial run with an underwhelming worldwide gross of $605 million.
Before Bay's last hurrah with The Last Knight, however, Paramount Pictures and Hasbro Studios had already decided to go back to basics with the production of Bumblebee, which chronicles the Autobot fan favorite's early years as a Volkswagen. The production also marked a major changing of the guard in the Transformers universe, as Knight, the longtime LAIKA Studios head and director of the Oscar-nominated stop-motion animated feature Kubo and the Two Strings, took the director's chair.
Now, following the recent debut of the teaser trailer for Bumblebee, Paramount has released a new featurette introducing moviegoers to Knight. The featurette finds longtime Transformers producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura praising Knight's history with LAIKA, where he served not only as CEO, but as an animator and producer on the studio's acclaimed films Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls before he assumed the director's chair for Kubo.
The featurette also gives Knight the opportunity to detail his storytelling sensibilities, saying, "At LAIKA, we try to find an artful balance of darkness and light and intensity, and warmth and humor and heart. The idea to bring that philosophy to Bumblebee was really exciting." In addition, Knight says that as a child of the 1980s and a fan of the "classic, Spielbergian coming-of-age tales," he wanted to see the same thing happen as the director of Bumblebee.
Hoping to capture the nostalgia of 1980s films and the nostalgia surrounding the Transformers brand at the same time with Bumblebee's setting in the '80s, there's no question that Knight was an excellent choice to helm a film in the Transformers universe. It will be a definite change of pace for the franchise, especially after the crash-boom-bang mayhem that plagued the series under the direction of Bay for 10 years. Sure, some of the Transformers films - particularly the first in 2007 - were highly entertaining, but the franchise was in a serious need of a recalibration after The Last Knight sputtered last summer.
And while Bumblebee isn't by definition a continuation of the franchise, but rather a prequel, you can sense in the film's first trailer that Knight has given the world of the transforming machines much more than meets the eye. The great thing is, Knight sounds intent on finding Bumblebee's heart among all those working parts, too.
Source: Paramount Pictures
- Bumblebee (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018