The Wall Street Journal has posted an article taking a look at Hasbro's writers room projects for both the Transformers movie series, and the in-development Hasbro Cinematic Universe project. While largely a recap of what the writers rooms were and were supposed to do, some interesting details did find their way in to the story that give some new information of both The Last Knight
and perhaps changes to come in movies afterward. Keep reading for more!
The Wall Street Journal article is restricted to view by subscribers only, but we have some relevant excerpts for you below. The most interesting detail revealed was the concept of an "alternate history" approach in The Last Knight
as one of the pitches during the Transformers writers room process. The ongoing rumors of Merlin and King Arthur as well as casting calls for extras and some behind the scenes photos showing and referencing knights and Saxons may indicate something along this line was pursued in the writing of next year's movie. Further down, a reference is made to hiring new directors for subsequent Transformers movies. This is not necessarily a sign that Michael Bay is finally, for real, he menas it this time, honest not returning for any further sequels; The Bumblebee movie to be released in 2018 would almost require a different director, given the production timeline that would be involved. And to take part in the 2019 movie, Michael Bay would need to start work on that practically as soon as The Last Knight
is completed - not impossible, of course, but it is a point where we could expect to see a different director become attached if Bay wants to spend time on a different project at that point. But since the article indicates that there's no solidified concept of what the 2019 sequel is even to be at this stage, there's probably plenty of time for all involved parties to weigh their options.
"Transformers" has long been Viacom Inc. -owned Paramount’s most successful franchise, with four movies, all directed by Michael Bay, that together grossed nearly $4 billion. But they came out every two or three years - an eternity in modern Hollywood - and the last one, 2014’s "Transformers: Age of Extinction," was the lowest grossing in the U.S., signaling audience fatigue.
On white boards, the group plotted possible story lines about an alternate history of Earth, from the time of the dinosaurs into the future, that imagined Transformers playing roles during events like World War II. Artists in the room turned ideas discussed around the table into visual concepts by the next morning.
The group spent three weeks assembling story ideas and then, with the blessing of Paramount and Hasbro executives, split up to write treatments, or extended story summaries, over the next few months. The studio chose one to be 2017’s sequel "Transformers: The Last Knight," to be directed by Mr. Bay, and another for 2018 that will focus on the character Bumblebee.
Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s chief executive, said the first few "Transformers" movies helped build toy sales from just over $100 million to about $500 million annually. The so-called Hasbro cinematic universe, if successful, could help expand or relaunch other toy lines. And by planning movies years in advance, he added, Hasbro can present ideas for its brands to shareholders, retailers and other partners. "We live in that world of five-year business plans, and we felt it would be great to connect partners like Paramount in that process," the CEO said.
In the past, studios often independently decided how to adapt properties they licensed and when to release movies about them, making it difficult to coordinate retail efforts. But Mr. Goldner said his company, which suffered a flop with 2012’s "Battleship," wasn’t content to be a passive observer.
Soon, Hasbro and Paramount will select the first few treatments from the second writers’ room to turn into full scripts, said Mr. Evans, and then will begin hiring directors to make them as well as other "Transformers" pictures.
Full article available online to subscribers of The Wall Street Journal
Paramount has earmarked dates for sequels well into the future, including a seventh "Transformers" movie to be released the Friday before July 4, 2019. Although the studio hasn’t figured out what the movie will be, Mr. Evans predicts "it will almost certainly come out of one of the ideas in the room."