The Transformers franchise is in a very weird spot right now. The first Michael Bay helmed Transformers movie that hit big screens back in 2007 did gangbusters at the box office, grossing over $US 707 million globally (and this was way before China became the second biggest movie market in the world). The movie was also decently received by critics and loved by fans.
Naturally, its sequel Revenge of the Fallen did even better at the box office. However, if that movie told us one thing is that Michael Bay does not give two hoots about the Transformers IP. It was spectacularly bad and universally castigated by critics and fans alike.
Since then, every movie in this franchise has been receiving largely negative reviews by critics and fans. The final Bay flick The Last Knight, not only received terrible reviews but also made about 40-50% less at the global box office than its predecessor, Age of Extinction ($US 1.1 billion).
Perhaps that’s the reason why the most beloved Transformers film since the original, Travis Knight’s Bumblebee (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) grossed only $US 462 million globally: There’s just so much stink from the previous movies. Anyway, it seems like now the producers have no clue what to do with the franchise. In fact, they don’t even know whether the movie is a reboot or a prequel.
When TFW2005 asked executive producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura if Bumblebee was a sequel or reboot, here’s what he had to say:
“The difficulty in developing a movie series is the fact that constraints increase as you move forward. In the early days of the series, you have the freedom to start new things. You do not have to follow the rules established in other films. In Bumblebee, different approaches and different productions were possible.”
Later he was asked what would happen to the primary, Bay-directed Transformers franchise and once again, he pretty much just gave a response that’s akin to a shoulder shrug.
“I do not know what will be the next [movie]. It’s up to the screenplay. Currently, two scripts are in progress; one of them is the main series sequel. It doesn’t feel like I’ll start with that script. We are still in the process of putting together ideas with scriptwriters…The plan is undecided, but it is also an interesting part of this job.”
Frankly, these responses seem lazy. It’s quite obvious that Paramount has no idea what they’re doing with these characters and have no clear plan etched out. Here’s a suggestion: Just forget about the Michael Bay nonsense, consider Bumblebee a successful reboot of the franchise and build on that.