michael bay and mark wahlberg on transformers 4

After the worldwide box office success of Transformers: Age of Extinction, it’s no surprise Paramount started getting the ball rolling on Transformers 5 for 2016. We still don’t know who’ll be writing it or directing it but, we can make a good assumption it’ll be long. The first four film, all directed by Michael Bay, have gotten increasingly long with each installment. They’re 144, 150, 154 and 165 minutes long respectively. So, with that in mind, I asked producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura if we’d ever see a shorter, compact Transformers movie.

We also asked him who, if anyone, would take over for Bay if he ever decides to leave the franchise. You can get the answers to both questions below.

Here’s an excerpt from our interview with di Bonaventura where we discuss the running time and Bay’s potential replacement.

/Film: [Age of Extinction] is the longest of the franchise running at 165 minutes. Now, all the movies have been pretty long and Michael is known for making beefy movies like that. Do you think moving forward is there any way or could you even make a shorter movie or do you sort of now have this built in fan expectation for a two hour plus, massive movie?

Lorenzo di Bonventura: I think a couple things are at work. One is we have so many ideas it’s hard to [fit them all in]. And the other is, the truth is Michael likes long movies. And if you look at all of his movies, they tend to be long. Not just the Transformers movies, you know. So I think that’s what he likes to do and I think, you know, hoping he stays with the franchise, we’ll probably have another long movie.

Right. Well that sort of leads me to the next thing. I know you’re not sure yet if Michael’s coming back for the next one, or maybe you are and you can’t say, but either way, no filmmakers really stayed with a franchise this long. Hypothetically, he’s eventually going to leave at some point whether it’s 5 or 18. My question is, what happens at that point? Do you think there’s a filmmaker who can step into his shoes?

I wouldn’t wanna be them, but there will be somebody. I think the opportunity’s too great. My suspicion is, without having thought really about it at all, cause I really want Michael to return, I think Michael’s found the right mix for this franchise. So the sense of humor, obviously the scale. The invention that’s going on, all these things he really likes and clearly has found a way to continue to top himself. But, you know, I guess if you had to think about who would be the next one, my guess is it would be somebody who probably was a kid who watched the show as a kid…

Like what they’re doing at Lucasfilm.

…Because then they’ll have a fundamental understanding of the D.N.A. in a way. And are able to bring that thing that you have when you’ve grown up with it. It sinks into you in a different way.

The first statement pretty much confirms the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” status of the Transformers franchise. Critics ravage it, yet audiences still turn out en masse. If they took all those ideas and just focused on one or two good ones, making the movie 90 minutes, people might get mad. Or, grosses could go up because of improved word of mouth and an extra showing per day could be squeezed in. It’s impossible to tell which result would happen. It’s hard to argue with a $200 million opening weekend worldwide though.

As for Bay leaving the franchise, I simultaneously don’t see how he can stay or how he can leave. Like, why would Michael Bay keep wanting to make these movies? They feel so repetitive. On the other hand, it’s a world that’s wholly his. Would you let someone else play with your toys like that? It’s got to be a tough position for the filmmaker and certainly in the coming months, we’ll find out if he’s returning for Transformers 5 or not. The clock is ticking.

We’ll have more from di Bonaventura soon. Transformers: Age of Extinction is now in theaters.

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