The success of Michael Bay's Transformers in 2007 launched a franchise of films based on the popular '80s toys that included Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2009 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 2011. However, the series stalled a bit when the most recent installment, 2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction, received poor reviews from critics and audiences - despite earning more than a billion dollars at the international box office.
Following Age of Extinction, Paramount assembled a writer's room - led by Oscar-winning scribe Akiva Goldsman - to generate more ideas for their planned Transformers cinematic universe. Recently, the studio announced release dates for Transformers 5 and 6 as well as a spinoff film based on Bumblebee. Now, a new report about the Bumblebee film offers insight into its planned production cost.
Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey told THR that the studio is filming the three upcoming Transformers movies - due to release in the successive summers of 2017, 2018, and 2019 - back to back. Additionally, Grey mentioned that the writing staff overseen by Goldsman crafted a number of different stories that could help the Transformers franchise continue on - perhaps even beyond 2019.
Read Grey's full quote:
“There are characters in the Transformers universe that can be and should be made into their own movies. We will make the first movie with Michael [Bay] and go right into a Bumblebee movie, which will be at a lower cost. … We’ve brought in a pretty strong writing staff run by Akiva Goldsman, and they have put together eight or nine interesting stories. So, between that group and Steven Spielberg’s guidance on a story level, these characters are a big business for us to pursue.”
The idea of a spinoff based on Bumblebee has existed before Paramount officially confirmed the film, with Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner commenting that the beloved character could provide a good central focus to his own feature. Little is known about the planned Bumblebee movie from Paramount, but Bay won't direct and the studio is aiming for a lower budget than other installments in the Transformers franchise. Together, the first four films budgeted at roughly $755 million and earning more than $3.77 billion at the global box office.
It's unclear when Paramount decided the Bumblebee spinoff would have a lower budget than other Transformers movies - depending on the story of the film, the fan-favorite character could certainly lend itself to a smaller character-focused storyline with less of the action spectacle that have been the focus of other installments of the series. Given the poor response to Transformers: Age of Extinction, which had the highest budget of all the films in the series to that point, a lower-cost Bumblebee spinoff may help to diversify this cinematic universe.
However, the news comes on the heels of Deadpool's massively successful (both critically and financially) opening weekend that has prompted many to wonder whether other action/superhero franchises will attempt to include lower-budget spinoffs into their larger cinematic universes - similar to Deadpool as part of 20th Century Fox's X-Men universe. Although the Transformers spinoff and Paramount attempting to produce it at a lower cost may be unrelated to the success of Deadpool, it certainly illustrates that a Bumblebee film has potential for critical and financial success - even if it doesn't strictly fit into the tone of the larger Transformers universe.
Transformers 5 will open in U.S. theaters on June 23rd, 2017, followed by the Bumblebee spinoff on June 8th, 2018, and Transformers 6 on June 28th, 2019.