The Transformers franchise may be coming up on its fifth movie this year, but it is showing no signs of slowing down. Quite the opposite, in fact. Paramount is moving forward with their Transformers spin-off, which will center on the character Bumblebee. And the studio has brought on director Travis Knight to helm the project.
Variety broke the news that Travis Knight, who most recently directed the stop-motion animation feature Kubo and the Two Strings, has been hired to direct the Bumblebee movie. This will serve as his live-action directorial debut and only the second feature-length movie he has ever directed. This will also be the first movie in the Transformers franchise that isn’t being directed by Michael Bay, who has directed all five movies up to this point including the upcoming Transformers: The Last Knight.
Paramount has put a lot of resources into the Transformers series in an attempt to see just how far they can take it. That is how the Bumblebee spin-off was first conceived. Most studios in Hollywood are trying to assemble some form of a cinematic universe in an attempt to mirror the success that Marvel Studios has had. Since Transformers appears to be bulletproof at the box office, Paramount is looking to the robots in disguise to be their cash cow for the foreseeable future. In 2015 the studio put together a massive writer’s room to try and map out the future of the Transformers franchise and during the course of that, writer Christina Hodson wound up being the one in that room who cracked the code on the Bumblebee movie, so she penned the script. She has also been tapped by Warner Bros. to write the Harley Quinn spin-off Gotham City Sirens.
The plot of the Bumblebee movie has not yet been revealed, but it is going to be relatively low-budget when compared to the massive budgets of the other Transformers movies. That means it is a slightly less risky proposition to hire a guy like Travis Knight to direct it. It was said in a statement when the Bumblebee movie was announced that it will explore the “never before told” story of the beloved character. Travis Knight is an interesting choice for the job. On the one hand, Kubo and the Two Strings was a critical darling and wound up being nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards. On the other hand, the movie only made $69.9 million at the box office working from a $60 million budget. Given that the most important aspect of the Transformers franchise (in the eyes of Paramount) is bringing in as much money as possible, it is interesting that they didn’t bring in someone with a more established track record. That said, it will be interesting to see a different take on a Transformers movie after seeing Michael Bay do it five times.
Paramount currently has release dates set for their next three Transformers movies. Transformers: The Last Knight will hit on June 23 with Bumblebee scheduled to follow on June 8, 2018. Lastly, the untitled Transformers 6 will arrive on June 28, 2019. So at least for the next few years, Transformers will be a staple at the summer box office. Even if Michael Bay fails to deliver with Transformers 5, we can hope that Travis Knight’s fresh creative mind can breathe some life into the series.