Paramount Pictures has begun to reveal more about its plans for the Transformers movie franchise over the upcoming years - after having assembled a "writers group" to plot out a shared universe of movies featuring robots in disguise for the next ten years. First, Michael Bay shall start production on his fifth - and, according to the filmmaker, his last one for real this time - Transformers film in May of 2017 for its June 2017 theatrical release date. However, Paramount has already begun announcing its plans for the series beyond when Transformers 5 hits the scene - marking the end of Bay's rather polarizing run on the Hasbro toy-turned sci-fi action blockbuster franchise as a director (though, Bay will likely still produce future installments).
Transformers 5's 2017 release date is now official, while release dates for additional Transformers films in 2018 and 2019 have been confirmed by Paramount. The studio has also now revealed that the 2018 Transformers installment will, in fact, be a spinoff for the Autobot Bumblebee, while Transformers 6 - that is, the continuation of the narrative from Transformers: Age of Extinction and the forthcoming fifth Transformers movie - will take the 2019 date.
Comic Book has received a statement from Paramount/Hasbro, stating that the 2018 Transformers installment will "tell the never before heard story of Bumblebee, one of the most beloved characters from Hasbro’s Transformers universe."
Furthermore, during the latest Toy Fair investor conference call, Hasbro's Transformers franchise leader Tom Warner confirmed that the 2018 movie is a Bumblee spinoff (h/t Coming Soon):
“This summer we worked closely with a talented team of A-list screenwriters to map out the future of the Transformers cinematic universe, and as [was] announced earlier, things kick off in a major way in 2017 with the release of Transformers 5 in June. And we’re working on a spin-off movie centered around Bumblebee for 2018 and the next chapter for 2019.”
A Bumblee spinoff is a Transformers movie that Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner has suggested before could happen one day, but this is the first official confirmation that we've gotten about such a movie being in development. The Bay-directed Transformers movies to date have targeted a wide audience, combining PG-13 level material - including sexual content and lowbrow humor aimed squarely at the franchise's core teenaged demographic, first and foremost - with big-budget effects and spectacle that feature lots of destructive mayhem, including some Transformer character deaths that, frankly, might be a bit too intense for younger moviegoers. However, Goldner's previous comments on the subject of a Bumblebee spinoff (see below) have indicated that such a project would be more genuinely kid-friendly than live-action Transformers movies past:
... Many of you know Bumblebee: the yellow Camaro, formally known as a yellow VW Bug, and he is a beloved character by kids all over the world. We could see stories told around Bumblebee and other characters...
Furthermore, while Transformers 6 will likely aim to maintain some continuity with its Bay-helmed predecessors in terms of tone and style alike (assuming that Bay doesn't wind up directing it himself...), the Bumble spinoff presents a chance for a different filmmaker to come in and put their unique spin on the cinematic Transformers property. Franchises such as the Fast & Furious film series and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have found success in recent years by mixings things up in terms of the storytellers who are working behind the camera on different installments - and we're now starting to see more and more studios follow suit with their own IPs (example: Lucasfilm and Star Wars). The idea of Paramount going that route with the Transformers franchise too will no doubt sound all the better for the fan who have more than gotten their fill of the Bay-helmed installments, at this point.
How about it: does the idea of a Bumblebee spinoff (not directed by Michael Bay) sound promising to you?
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.