Marvel's The Avengers was a big game changer in Hollywood and altered the way studios handled their big-budget franchises. These days, it's very commonplace for executives to plot out a longterm future for their tentpoles, securing release dates years in advance as they plan a variety of projects. In the years since Earth's Mightiest first assembled, Warner Bros. (the DCEU) and Lucasfilm (Star Wars) have joined Marvel Studios in the shared universe game and already know the movies they have on the docket until the next decade.
Seeing all the benefits of this, Paramount is looking to get into the action with their lucrative Transformers series. After the first four installments were released in a more traditional manner (spaced years apart), the creative team is changing things up for the future. The studio has pieced together a writers room with the intention of annualizing the massive franchise, alternating between entries in the main story and spinoffs. Transformers: The Last Knight premieres next summer, followed by a Bumblebee spinoff in 2018. A Transformers 6 is scheduled for June 2019, and Paramount already has outlines planned for that film and Transformers 7.
Screen Rant visited the set of The Last Knight and had an opportunity to speak with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. He discussed the future of the Transformers franchise and how far in development the forthcoming sequels are, revealing that it remains a fluid situation:
We haven't even started. Actually, we have outlines, and I think one of the things was we did not want to rush to start those scripts, because we felt like--and it turns out we were right--that this was going to evolve. So we would have had a script that wouldn't have related to where we've evolved to.
So I think that's probably the next conversation that's going to come up, is OK, now that we really know where we're headed and how we're headed, what is it--what does the tone of it feel like? You discover things along the way. Ideas you had--I find what's so much fun about making any film is ideas you had that you thought were great don't turn out so great, and ideas you were like "Eh, it's pretty good," turn out really great. You're like, "How did that happen?"
These days, it's important for studios to have a basic idea of where they would like to go with their properties, but it's encouraging that Paramount is not rushing anything and are open to changes. It's an approach similar to Lucasfilm's, as they do not know how Star Wars: Episode IX will end at this point in time. This will hopefully allow each film to be of the best quality it can be, since certain aspects and elements can be altered. The notion of wanting all the installments to relate to each other as Transformers evolves is the right one to have. Things can change quickly and frequently in the film industry, so it's better to be prepared. A brief outline can easily be revised, but a full script would require more work to correct.
Di Bonaventura was obviously brief on Transformers 6 and didn't mention anything in terms of plot details, but he did suggest the possibility of Transformers 6 being more of a standalone film that doesn't necessarily have to "relate to the five before it." According to him, that will be a debate the filmmakers have until the movie enters production as they try to determine the best course of action. The reaction to The Last Knight will probably go a long way in determining how they handle the franchise moving forward. With Transformers 6 poised to be the first main series entry not directed by Michael Bay, maybe Paramount could view it as a fresh start and a soft reboot.
- Transformers 5/Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) release date: Jun 21, 2017
- Bumblebee (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018