This year marks a full decade since Michael Bay's Transformers first hit the big screen, and producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura has been with the franchise every step of the way. Bay's latest - and supposedly last - foray into the world of Transformers arrived in theaters this week, and Transformers: The Last Knight offers a grand scale adventure that stretches back to medieval times and ventures out into space, where Autobot leader Optimus Prime gets sucked into a dark plan to rejuvenate Cybertron.
Despite Bay's departure, the Transformers franchise isn't showing any signs of slowing down. A Bumblebee spinoff movie is set to start filming in August, and another main series movie is being planned for release in summer 2019. Ahead of the global premiere of Transformers: The Last Knight in London last week, Screen Rant got a chance to speak to Di Bonaventura about the Autobots' latest adventure, and what's next for the franchise.
Check out a video of the interview above, and a transcript below.
The Transformers movies are particularly successful worldwide and not just in America so how do you go about that global appeal?
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura: I think the value systems of almost every culture have a lot of crossover. Everybody has very specific things that are specific to their culture, but things like honor and courage and bravery and brotherhood and things that Transformers stands for, and those kinds of movies, they travel because of their value systems. It’s not an ‘okay, we’re gonna make it because the French love this or the Chinese love this.’ Everybody loves those certain kinds of values.
I enjoyed this one a lot because quite a bit of it was filmed in my hometown, Oxford, so it was very nice seeing that on the big screen. What are the benefits of filming in the UK?
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura: Well, the UK has such unique architecture. In the United States we’re such a young country, relatively speaking. I think the variety here is also spectacular. We shot in a church built in 1240, we shot in a castle in Scotland, we shot on the isle of sky, we went to Stonehenge. These things are legendary and they’re also visually very stunning so it gave the texture of the movie a whole other experience and we were hoping for that.
Touching on history, we see some of Bumblebee’s past and his spinoff movie I believe is shooting next month.
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura: It starts in August, yes.
Can you give us any idea of what to expect from his adventures?
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura: I don’t want to give away too much about it but we’re making a very distinctly different type of Transformers movie. It’s a more intimate movie. It’s a little bit like Iron Giant which I worked on many years ago. It’s a smaller story but it’s still about these larger issues, the same sort of titanic clashes occur. But it’s a female lead, the relationship she and Bumblebee develop is very different than what we’ve seen before. And so I think people are going to love the intimacy of that movie in contrast to some of the big ‘wham bam thank you mam’ you know?
And one of the things popular right now because of the superhero genre is the shared universe model, getting everyone together for a team-up movie and then splitting everyone off. Is that a challenge for Transformers to take one character out of that ensemble?
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura: Um, well, we’re going to find that out! You know, I think this movie opened that up. The whole idea of bringing the Arthurian legend into it sort of said you can do a lot of different things with Transformers that we really weren’t so sure about at first, and frankly didn’t have the imagination in a way of getting there until our fifth movie. And when you see little glimpses of Bumblebee in World War II, you’re like ‘wow, Bumblebee!’ you know, so you can see the standalone ideas. There are plenty out there that exist and I think that’s where the shared universe notion plays out into this.
In Age of Extinction had setup to this movie but mentioning the Knights and alluding to them, and Optimus Prime leaving to find his creators, and in this movie there’s a tease that they haven’t really uncovered all the secrets..
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura: Yes.
Is that already plotted out?
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura: No, not necessarily. We have some ideas but that may or may not play out in the next movie. We’re really waiting to see how the audience responds to this movie and what elements they really love because one of the things we found was - as filmmakers – that there was great freedom suddenly to break sort of the simplistic Decepticons vs. Autobots, and now, Arthurian legend, now Knights, and now humans have a role, and that was really exciting for us so I think we want to keep pushing out. So I don’t think you can anticipate necessarily that we’ll do a movie in sequence.
Where do you start with coming up with a Transformers movie? Do you start with a particular image or a particular set piece or just a single idea?
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura: I think each one has been slightly different. Usually it’s some kind of emotional construct. The first movie was boy gets car gets girl. That was sort of where it started. In this one I think it took on a larger ambition which was both the fusing of the Arthurian legend with the Transformers legend. Ironically they stand for quite the same thing – honor, courage, brotherhood, truth. You start, and it starts getting bigger on you. It’s really fun. There’s sort of a discovery to it.
Directed by Michael Bay and starring Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock, Jerrod Carmichael, Isabela Moner and Santiago Cabrera, The Last Knight shatters the core myths of the Transformers franchise, and redefines what it means to be a hero. Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Saving our world falls upon the shoulders of an unlikely alliance: Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg); Bumblebee; an English Lord (Sir Anthony Hopkins); and an Oxford Professor (Laura Haddock).
There comes a moment in everyone’s life when we are called upon to make a difference. In Transformers: The Last Knight, the hunted will become heroes. Heroes will become villains. Only one world will survive: theirs, or ours.
- Transformers 5/Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) release date: Jun 21, 2017
- Bumblebee (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018