The Future Of The 'Transformers' Franchise Appears To Be Up In The Air

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen seemingly tested any faith fans had in the franchise following the satisfying 2007 live-action debut of the toy-based franchise. Since then, every sequel in the Transformers franchise has made less and less money, to the point that Transformers: The Last Knight barely made more than half of what the previous sequel, Age of Extinction, earned at the domestic box office.

Sadly, that continued disappointment didn't bode well for Bumblebee, which is currently the lowest grossing movie in the entire Transformers franchise ($3 million under The Last Knight), both domestically and globally. But the good news is that Bumblebee was received extremely well by critics. Not only is it the highest rated film in the franchise with critics at Rotten Tomatoes, but it's the second most beloved by general audiences, second only to the original Transformers from 2007. What does all this mean for the future of the Transformers franchise? Executive producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura recently talked about the possibilities.

Bumblebee has been referred to by Hasbro as a "new storytelling universe," but it hasn't been clarified as to what that really means. Lorenzo di Bonaventura was asked about this detail by Transformers fan site TFW2005, and 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."

That sounds a little bit lazy. Because if you're just going to break the rules established in the other movies, then why not just reboot the entire franchise? Bumblebee is another entry that really messes with the timeline of how long and often humans have been interacting with Transformers. It's not nearly as bad as the mythology breaking introduction of elements from The Last Knight, but it's certainly not completely consistent with the rest of the franchise.

Either way, di Bonaventura is hoping Travis Knight will return for a Bumblebee sequel, even if they're not entirely sure what that will be yet. Apparently there's talk of doing a kind of buddy movie with Bumblebee and Optimus Prime working together. But di Bonaventura also notes that if a good idea for a solo Optimus Prime adventure comes along, they'd be very interested in making that work too. Thankfully, the next installment will also be more character-oriented like Bumblebee:

"In Bumblebee, I wanted to make a film that feels emotion and warmth, but I think that it requires patience to continue to observe the relationship developed between the two [main characters]. Don't do a big explosion every few minutes. I have learned that you can like this style as well. I think that it will be utilized in the sequel of both Bumblebee and Transformers."

Of course, di Bonaventura also commented on the idea of bringing back a little more Bayhem into the equation with whatever movie comes next. So maybe he's not really sure what the fans actually want from a Transformers movie and he's still trying to find the right balance between what works and what doesn't.

What About the Primary Transformers Franchise?

As for the Transformers franchise outside of these prequel-style spin-offs, that's even more uncertain. Following The Last Knight, di Bonaventura isn't sure what's next, despite the fact that there was once an entire writers room planning the trajectory of future Transformers movies. The producer said:

"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."

This is why a total reboot of the franchise would be infinitely better. There are also so many restraints and complications thanks to everything that happened in the other five Transformers movies that could be avoided by wiping the slate clean. That's certainly how Hasbro seems to see things. But at the very least, we know the franchise is mostly moving away from what Michael Bay kept doing over and over again, and that's a good start.