By now, readers are aware that the "shared universe" model of movie franchise building is hardly limited to comic book films. Every studio is looking to mold their biggest tentpoles in the vein of Marvel Studios, and that includes Paramount's Transformers series. Shortly after announcing their intentions to put together a brain trust of writers to formulate possible spinoffs and a multi-part sequel, the studio brought in heavy hitters like The Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman and Incredible Hulk scribe Zak Penn (among others).
With so many people involved now, it would seem unlikely that there would be room for more cooks in this kitchen. But apparently, there are a couple of dishes that still need to be served up. Today, Paramount added to their Transformers writing room by recruiting the two screenwriters behind the Ant-Man rewrite.
Deadline is reporting that Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari (who spent half a year handling the rewrites for Marvel's Ant-Man film) have been brought on to help with the process of expanding the Transformers brand. Since it's so early in development, there's no word yet on which project that they'd be lending their talents to, and Paramount insiders claim that they haven't gotten far enough in discussions to outline specific films yet. That said, Barrer and Ferrari are expected to pen a live-action Transformers film at some point in the future.
That qualification is necessary, because Deadline's report also states that one of the movies the studio might pursue is a prequel (one that might well be animated) set on Cybertron, the home planet of the Autobots and Decepticons. For years, longtime fans have been yearning for a Transformers movie that's actually about the robots in disguise (not human drama in the middle of a Transformers war), and this sounds like it could be that film. Time will tell if it comes into fruition, but there are so many possibilities presented by a larger Transformers film universe that it would be a wasted opportunity to not set an entire movie on Cybertron.
Some may point to the critical reception of the four Transformers films to date and ask why we need even more of them (besides a periodical Michael Bay-helmed sequel), but this strategy is easy to justify from the studio's perspective. Obviously, the $1 billion grosses have a lot to do with it, but it (hopefully) goes beyond that. Transformers mythology and lore is so rich and deep that there are more than enough stories to sustain multiple film projects for the next handful of years. Bringing in new creative minds (behind acclaimed works like Walking Dead and Iron Man) would be a strong way of offering a fresh spin on the material, ideally generating interest in the brand.
The only question that remains is when we'll start to see some of these movies roll into theaters. The plan right now is to have Transformers 5 (tentatively dated for 2017) ready to commence principal photography by the time Bay finishes filming his Benghazi thriller, 13 Hours. As for the spinoffs that are in the works, that's difficult to say. Many of the members of the Transformers writers room have other commitments to take care of ( like Pacific Rim 2 and Ready Player One) and could conceivably be tied up for the next while. So it may be some time before everything falls into place.
We'll keep you updated on the Transformers franchise as more information becomes available.