The Transformers movies have been rolling out since 2007, when Michael Bay applied his signature style to the nostalgic Robots in Disguise. Four sequels directed by Bay followed, all of which received increasingly worse reviews while making ridiculous amounts of money at the box office (2011's Transformers: Dark of the Moon and 2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction made over $1 billion worldwide each). But after almost a decade of critic-audience divide over the movies, Paramount and Hasbro decided to shake it up.
They put together a Transformers writer's room in 2015 that intended to create a shared universe of movies based on the characters with stronger narrative throughlines and appealed to a wider demographic. This saw Bay's last film, 2017's Transformers: The Last Knight, embrace some big-picture ideas for the franchise's future, and directly led to the making of 2018's surprise delight Bumblebee, a pseudo-prequel about the Volkswagen Beetle. However, this plan hasn't been totally fruitful. The Last Knight struggled even in dependable China, while Bumblebee's box office has been slow out of the gate despite fantastic reviews, trodden underfoot by an Aquaman-riding kraken.
With all that change-ups and rampant speculation about shared universe plans, it can be hard to keep track of Transformers' future. Here, we're going to piece together the truth.
- This Page: The Future of the Transformers Franchise
- Page 2: Upcoming Transformers Movies
Transformers 6 Is Dead
When Michael Bay claimed that Transformers: The Last Knight was his final film in the series, few took him seriously; he'd said the same thing with Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction, always coming back for more. This time, however, he really does seem done - and it looks like there won't be another entry in his timeline either.
Transformers 6 was originally slated to release on June 28, 2019, but after the box office underperformance of The Last Knight (it made $605.4 million worldwide, turning a profit on its $217 million budget but halving the $1.1 billion gross of its predecessor) no direct moves were made. In May 2018, Transformers 6 was removed from the Paramount slate. While there hasn't been any official cancelation, it appears that the project is dead.
This is despite Transformers: The Last Knight - the first film made after the writer's room was formed - going to great lengths to set up a sequel; it revealed that Earth was actually Unicron in disguise and had a post-credits scene teasing Quintessa attempting to awake the planet-sized Transformer. It seems likely that this plot thread will be dropped also.
Bumblebee Was Going To Lead To A Soft Reboot & More Spinoffs
Where the future looked to be was in Bumblebee. Originally announced as a direct prequel to the Michael Bay movies, that relationship appeared to weaken during development. While Megatron is absent due to the character being frozen in the Hoover Dam in 1987 and B-127 turns into a Chevy Camaro at the end, it's incredibly removed from anything approaching Bayhem in style and tone, with G1 Transformers, a different mission to Earth for Bumblebee, and a post-credits scene that retcons the 2007 Transformers.
All of this chimes with it said that Bumblebee was retroactively intended to be a soft reboot of the Transformers franchise. As well as seeing the end of Transformers 6, the financial struggles of The Last Knight reportedly led to the prequel being considered as a chance to reset the series for audiences and lead it in a new direction. It's fair to say, on a purely artistic level, it's succeeded; what Transformers is in live-action is now very different and more in-line with the cartoons.
So, what's next? There's been talk of several other movies. The cast of the film have discussed a direct Bumblebee 2, while director Travis Knight has said he'd like a Cybertron-set sequel, and there's still a dozen of ideas from the writer's room to be plundered; they may not relate to Bumblebee directly, but they fit in with the new line of thinking about the Transformers series.
Of course, this entire enterprise hinged on Bumblebee being a financial success too. So far, the film has made $300 million worldwide on a $135 million budget, essentially breaking even following Hollywood math. The film has strong legs with a low week-to-week drop, and has only just opened in China, but based on the numbers so far neither is going to make it a mega-smash. John Cena and Hailee Steinfeld told us they're not too worried about the film's box office performance, but it's low enough to call into question a direct continuation of this spinoff trend.