Transformers (film series)
Transformers is a series of American science fiction action films based on Transformers franchise which began in the 1980s.[note 1] Michael Bay has directed the first five films: Transformers (2007), Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Dark of the Moon (2011), Age of Extinction (2014) and The Last Knight (2017). A reboot, Bumblebee, directed by Travis Knight and produced by Bay, was released on December 21, 2018. The series has been distributed by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks.
Franchise logo for the first three films
by Hasbro[note 1]
|875 minutes (6 films)|
|Box office||$4.38 billion|
Aside from the first film and Bumblebee, which both received positive reviews, the Transformers film series has received negative-to-mixed reception. Main elements of criticism include the plots, acting, dialogue, filming, robot designs, sophomoric/toilet humor, depiction and sexual objectification of female characters, annoying and undeveloped characters, racial stereotypes, overuse of MacGuffins, product placements and CGI, and the long running time of the films; but the visual effects, action sequences and music received praise. It is the 13th-highest-grossing film series, with a total of $4.3 billion; two films in the series have individually grossed over $1 billion.
|Film||U.S. release date||Director||Screenwriter(s)||Story by||Producer(s)|
|Transformers||July 3, 2007||Michael Bay||Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman||John Rogers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman||Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tom DeSanto, Don Murphy and Ian Bryce|
Revenge of the Fallen
|June 24, 2009||Ehren Kruger, Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman|
Dark of the Moon
|June 29, 2011||Ehren Kruger|
Age of Extinction
|June 27, 2014|
The Last Knight
|June 21, 2017||Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan||Akiva Goldsman, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan|
|Bumblebee||December 21, 2018||Travis Knight||Christina Hodson||Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tom DeSanto, Don Murphy, Michael Bay and Mark Vahradian|
For the first film, producer Don Murphy was planning a G.I. Joe film adaptation, but when the U.S. launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Hasbro suggested adapting the Transformers franchise instead. Tom DeSanto joined Murphy because he was a fan of the series. They met with comic book writer Simon Furman, and cited the Generation 1 cartoon and comics as their main influence. They made the Creation Matrix their plot device, though Murphy had it renamed because of the film series The Matrix. DeSanto chose to write the treatment from a human point of view to engage the audience, while Murphy wanted it to have a realistic tone, reminiscent of a disaster film. The treatment featured the Autobots Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Jazz, Prowl, Arcee, Ratchet, Wheeljack, and Bumblebee, and the Decepticons Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Ravage, Laserbeak, Rumble, Skywarp and Shockwave.
Steven Spielberg, a fan of the comics and toys, signed on as executive producer in 2004. John Rogers wrote the first draft, which pitted four Autobots against four Decepticons, and featured the Ark spaceship. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, fans of the cartoon, were hired to rewrite the script in February 2005. Spielberg suggested that "a boy and his car" should be the focus. This appealed to Orci and Kurtzman because it conveyed themes of adulthood and responsibility, "the things that a car represents in the United States". The characters of Sam and Mikaela were the sole point of view given in Orci and Kurtzman's first draft. The Transformers had no dialogue, as the producers feared talking robots would look ridiculous. The writers felt that even if it would look silly, not having the robots speak would betray the fanbase. The first draft also had a battle scene in the Grand Canyon. Spielberg read each of Orci and Kurtzman's drafts and gave notes for improvement. The writers remained involved throughout production, adding additional dialogue for the robots during the sound mixing (although none of this was kept in the final film, which ran fifteen minutes shorter than the initial edit). Furman's The Ultimate Guide, published by Dorling Kindersley, remained as a resource to the writers throughout production. Prime Directive was used as a fake working title. This was also the name of Dreamwave Productions' first Transformers comic book.
Michael Bay was asked to direct by Spielberg on July 30, 2005, but he dismissed the film as a "stupid toy movie". Nonetheless, he wanted to work with Spielberg, and gained a new respect for the mythology upon visiting Hasbro. Bay considered the first draft "too kiddie", so he increased the military's role in the story. The writers sought inspiration from G.I. Joe for the soldier characters, being careful not to mix the brands. Because Orci and Kurtzman were concerned the film could feel like a military recruitment commercial, they chose to make the military believe nations like Iran were behind the Decepticon attack as well as making the Decepticons primarily military vehicles. Bay based Lennox's struggle to get to the Pentagon phone line while struggling with an unhelpful operator from a real account he was given by a soldier when working on another film.
Orci and Kurtzman experimented with numerous robots from the franchise, ultimately selecting the characters most popular among the filmmakers to form the final cast. Bay acknowledged that most of the Decepticons were selected before their names or roles were developed, as Hasbro had to start designing the toys. Some of their names were changed because Bay was upset that they had been leaked. Optimus, Megatron, Bumblebee and Starscream were the only characters present in each version of the script. Arcee was a female Transformer introduced by Orci and Kurtzman, but she was cut because they found it difficult to explain robotic gender; Bay also disliked her motorcycle form, which he found too small. An early idea to have the Decepticons simultaneously strike multiple places around the world was also dropped, being used later in the film's sequels.
Revenge of the Fallen (2009)Edit
In September 2007, Paramount announced a late June 2009 release date for the sequel to Transformers. A major hurdle that was overcome during the film's production was the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, as well as possible strikes by the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild. Bay began creating animatics of action sequences featuring characters rejected for the 2007 film; this would allow animators to complete sequences if the Directors Guild of America went on strike in July 2008, which ultimately did not happen. The director considered making a small project in between Transformers and its sequel, but knew "you have your baby and you don't want someone else to take it". The film was given a $200 million budget, which was $50 million more than the 2007 film, and some of the action scenes rejected for the original were written into the sequel, such as the way Optimus is reintroduced in this film. Lorenzo di Bonaventura said the studio proposed filming two sequels simultaneously, but he and Bay concurred that was not the right direction for the series.
Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman originally passed on the sequel because of a busy schedule. The studio began courting other writers in May 2007, but as they were unimpressed with their pitches, they convinced Orci and Kurtzman to return. The studio also signed on Ehren Kruger, as he impressed Bay and Hasbro president Brian Goldner with his knowledge of the Transformers mythology, and because he was friends with Orci and Kurtzman. The writing trio were paid $8 million. Screenwriting was interrupted by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, but to avoid production delays the writers spent two weeks writing a treatment, which they handed in the night before the strike began, and Bay expanded the outline into a sixty-page scriptment, fleshing out the action, adding more jokes, as well as selecting the majority of new characters. The three writers spent four months finishing the screenplay while "locked" in two hotel rooms by Bay: Kruger wrote in his own room and the trio would check on each other's work twice a day.
Orci described the film's theme as "being away from home", with the Autobots contemplating living on Earth as they cannot restore Cybertron, while Sam goes to college. He wanted the focus between the robots and humans "much more evenly balanced", "the stakes [to] be higher", and the science fiction elements more prominent. Lorenzo di Bonaventura said that in total, there are around forty robots in the film, while ILM's Scott Farrar has said there are actually sixty. Orci added that he wanted to "modulate" the humor more, and felt he managed the more "outrageous" jokes by balancing them with a more serious plot approach to the Transformers' mythology. Bay concurred that he wanted to please fans by making the tone darker, and that "moms will think its safe enough to bring the kids back out to the movies" despite his trademark sense of humor.
Before Transformers was released, producer DeSanto had "a very cool idea" to introduce the Dinobots, while Bay was interested in an aircraft carrier, which was dropped from the 2007 film. Orci claimed they did not incorporate these characters into Revenge of the Fallen because they could not think of a way to justify the Dinobots' choice of form, and were unable to fit in the aircraft carrier. Orci also admitted he was also dismissive of the Dinobots because he does not like dinosaurs. "I recognize I am weird in that department", he said, but he became fonder of them during filming because of their popularity with fans. He added "I couldn't see why a Transformer would feel the need to disguise himself in front of a bunch of lizards. Movie-wise, I mean. Once the general audience is fully on board with the whole thing, maybe Dinobots in the future." However, Michael Bay said he hated the Dinobots and they had never been in consideration for being featured in the movies. It is the last film in the series to be distributed by DreamWorks.
Dark of the Moon (2011)Edit
For the third film, as a preemptive measure before the release of Revenge of the Fallen, Michael Lucchi and Paramount announced on March 16, 2009, that a third film would be released in IMAX 3D on July 1, 2011, which earned a surprised response from director Bay:
I said I was taking off a year from Transformers. Paramount made a mistake in dating Transformers 3—they asked me on the phone—I said yes to July 1—but for 2012—whoops! Not 2011! That would mean I would have to start prep in September. No way. My brain needs a break from fighting robots.
Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who had worked on the two previous Transformers films, declined to return for the third film, with Kurtzman declaring that "the franchise is so wonderful that it deserves to be fresh, all the time. We just felt like we’d given it a lot and didn’t have an insight for where to go with it next". Revenge of the Fallen's co-writer Ehren Kruger became the sole screenwriter for Dark of the Moon. Kruger had frequent meetings with Industrial Light & Magic's (ILM) visual effects producers, who suggested plot points such as the scenes in Chernobyl.
On October 1, 2009, Bay revealed that Dark of the Moon had already gone into pre-production, and its planned release was back to its originally intended date of July 1, 2011, rather than 2012. Due to the revived interest in 3-D technology brought in by the success of Avatar, talks between Paramount, ILM, and Bay had considered the possibility of the next Transformers film being filmed in 3-D, and testing was performed to bring the technology into Bay's work. Bay originally was not much interested in the format as he felt it did not fit his "aggressive style" of filmmaking, but he was convinced after talks with Avatar director James Cameron, who even offered the technical crew from that film. Cameron reportedly told Bay about 3-D, "You gotta look at it as a toy, it's another fun tool to help get emotion and character and create an experience." Bay was reluctant to film with 3-D cameras since in test he found them to be too cumbersome for his filming style, but he did not want to implement the technology in post production either since he was not pleased with the results. In addition to using the 3-D Fusion camera rigs developed by Cameron's team, Bay and the team spent nine months developing a more portable 3-D camera that could be brought into location. On the day of the film's release, Shia LaBeouf announced that Dark of the Moon will be his last Transformers film.
In a hidden extra for the Blu-ray release of Revenge of the Fallen, Bay expressed his intention to make Transformers 3 not necessarily larger than Revenge of the Fallen, but instead deeper into the mythology, to give it more character development, and to make it darker and more emotional. Unicron is briefly shown in a secret Transformers 3 preview feature in the Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray Disc. Ultimately, the producers decided to forgo a plot involving the planet-eating Transformer, and no further comments were ever made on the subject. Having been called Transformers 3 up to that point, the film's final title was revealed to be Dark of the Moon in October 2010. After Revenge of the Fallen was almost universally panned by critics, Bay acknowledged the general flaws of the script, having blamed the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike prior to the film for many problems. Bay promised to not have the "dorky comedy" from the last film. On March 19, 2010, the script was said to be finished.
Age of Extinction (2014)Edit
In February 2012, producer di Bonaventura stated that a fourth film was in the works, aiming for a 2014 release, with Michael Bay to direct and produce. On the same day, Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay announced a June 27, 2014 release date for a fourth film. Ehren Kruger would pen the script and Steve Jablonsky would score the film, as each had for the previous film. The film is set five years after the events in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Shia LaBeouf did not return in any future installments. Mark Wahlberg was instead cast in the lead role as new character, Cade Yeager. In November 2012, casting began to search for two more leads. Isabelle Cornish, Nicola Peltz, Gabriella Wilde, and Margaret Qualley were all considered to play Cade's daughter Tessa Yeager, while Luke Grimes, Landon Liboiron, Brenton Thwaites, Jack Reynor, and Hunter Parrish were all considered to play Tessa's race-car-driving boyfriend, Shane Dyson. Bay announced on his website that Reynor would portray Shane and that the fourth film would start the next installment in the overall series; the film was to be a darker sequel to Dark of the Moon and have a different feeling. Peter Cullen, who voiced Optimus Prime in the films, was to reprise his role. Tyrese Gibson was in talks to reprise his role as Sgt. Robert Epps from the original trilogy. Glenn Morshower stated that he was contracted for two films and he was to reprise his role. It was later announced that he would not be return until the next film. With a budget of $165 million, filming was expected to take place in London between April and November 2013—once Pain & Gain, another film that Bay was directing, had finished editing.
On January 8, 2013, it was announced that Reynor was joining Wahlberg in the lead. On March 26, 2013, Nicola Peltz was cast as the female lead. Bay confirmed that the movie was to be in 3D. Bay revealed to Collider that actor Stanley Tucci had joined the cast, and that the film would be the first feature film to be shot using smaller digital IMAX 3D cameras. On May 1, 2013, actor Kelsey Grammer was cast as the lead human villain named "Harold Attinger". On May 6, 2013, actress Sophia Myles was cast in a major supporting role. That same month, Chinese actress Li Bingbing and comedian T. J. Miller joined the cast.
Actor T.J. Miller would be playing the best friend of Wahlberg's character who is a mechanic. Also revealed were two Autobots who would have the following alternate modes—a black-and-blue 2013 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse named "Drift", and a green 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray concept named Crosshairs. A truck from Western Star Trucks would be Optimus Prime's new alternate mode for the movie. Bumblebee's new alternate mode was revealed to be a modified vintage 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, which later transforms into a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro concept. A green military vehicle (later confirmed to be Hound) and a white emergency response vehicle were also revealed.
The Last Knight (2017)Edit
In March 2015, Deadline Hollywood reported that Paramount Pictures was in talks with Akiva Goldsman to pitch new ideas for the Transformers franchise's future installments. The studio intends to do what James Cameron and 20th Century Fox have been doing in planning three Avatar sequels, and what Disney has done to revive Star Wars, with sequels and spin-offs. Paramount wants to have their own cinematic universe for Transformers, similar to Marvel's/Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe (which had been one of Paramount's previous film series), and DC Comics/Warner Bros.' DC Extended Universe. Goldsman is the head of the future projects, and worked with franchise director Michael Bay, executive producer Steven Spielberg, and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura to organize a "writers' room" that incubates ideas for potential Transformers sequels, prequels and spin-offs. The writers' room members include: Christina Hodson, Lindsey Beer, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari (Ant-Man), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Art Marcum & Matt Holloway, Zak Penn (Pacific Rim Uprising), Jeff Pinkner (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Ken Nolan, and Geneva Robertson-Dworet. Kirkman left the room after just one day to undergo throat surgery. In July 2015, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner were announced as the fifth Transformers film's screenwriters. However, on November 20, due to Goldsman's commitments creating a writers' room for G.I. Joe and Micronauts properties, Paramount began to negotiate with Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (Iron Man), as well as Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down), to write the film. Lindsey Beer and Geneva Robertson-Dworet were also brought aboard for writing duties.
After Transformers: Age of Extinction, Bay had decided not to direct any future Transformers films. But in early January 2016, in an interview with Rolling Stone, he stated that he would return to direct the fifth film, and that it will be his last Transformers film. Paramount Pictures spent $80 million on production in Michigan, in return for $21 million in state incentives, under agreements entered into before the state legislature eliminated the film office incentive program in July 2015. In April 2016, Paramount hired cinematographer Jonathan Sela. On May 17, Bay revealed the official title of the film to be The Last Knight on his Instagram account, where he also posted a production video showing a close-up of Optimus Prime's face with purple eyes instead of blue, and his face mostly discolored. The official Twitter account showed a 19-second short video in morse code that translates to "I'm coming for you May 31". On May 31, it was revealed that Megatron would return in the sequel.
Bumblebee is a 2018 American science fiction film centered on the Transformers' character of the same name. Originally planned as a spin-off and prequel to the 2007 film, it's subsequent drastic change in style, design and tone, now resembling that of the well-beloved Transformers: Generation 1 franchise, lead to the film becoming an effective reboot of the series. The film is directed by Travis Knight and written by Christina Hodson, and stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, and Pamela Adlon, with Dylan O'Brien as the voice of Bumblebee.
In March 2013, during the release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, producer di Bonaventura announced the studio's plans to development a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover. On July 26, 2013, G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu stated that he is also interested in directing a Transformers/G.I. Joe crossover film. Despite di Bonaventura stating that a crossover was not in the immediate plans for the franchises, he acknowledged that it is something they intend to do.
In March 2015, Akiva Goldsman was tasked with creating a plan for the "Transformers Cinematic Universe", including development of multiple films in a "writer’s room" style brain trust. In May of the same year, it was announced that Robert Kirkman, Zak Penn, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, Jeff Pinkner, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari, Christina Hodson, Lindsey Beer, Ken Nolan, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and Steven DeKnight were hired as writers for future installments. Some of the projects in development include Beast Wars, a film focusing on the origins of Cybertron, and sequels for the franchise. In September of the same year, it was announced that Barrer and Ferrari were hired to write a film that will explore the origins of Cybertron, with a working title of Transformers One. From the writer's room collaboration, it was reported in June 2015 that at least twelve films were pitched to Paramount Studios for the Transformers Cinematic Universe.
By December 2018, di Bonaventura stated that further films in the series are to follow the release of Bumblebee, while also acknowledging that the franchise will make some changes in tone and style due to the success of the solo movie.
In other mediaEdit
In addition to the films, the film series has a promotional expanded series that is set both before and after the events of the films. This includes comic books, video games, and novels. While the novels are partially based on the films themselves, and the video games aren't in the same continuity as the films, the comic books and graphic novels are in the same continuity and fill in several parts of the stories from the films.
Additional crew and film detailsEdit
|Transformers||Steve Jablonsky||Mitchell Amundsen||Paul Rubell, Glen Scantlebury and Thomas A. Muldoon||Hasbro and Di Bonaventura Pictures||DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures||2hr 23min|
Revenge of the Fallen
|Ben Seresin||Roger Barton, Paul Rubell, Joel Negron and Thomas A. Muldoon||2hr 30min|
Dark of the Moon
|Amir Mokri||Roger Barton, William Goldenberg, and Joel Negron||Paramount Pictures||2hr 34min|
Age of Extinction
|Roger Barton, William Goldenberg, and Paul Rubell||2hr 45min|
The Last Knight
|Jonathan Sela||Mark Sanger, John Refoua, Debra Neil-Fisher, Roger Barton, Adam Gerstel, and Calvin Wimmer||2hr 34min|
|Bumblebee||Dario Marianelli||Enrique Chediak||Paul Rubell||Hasbro, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Allspark Pictures and Tencent Pictures||1hr 53min|
Box office performanceEdit
|Film||Release date||Box office revenue||Box office ranking||Budget||Ref|
|Transformers||July 3, 2007||$319.2M||$390.5M||$709.7M||#36
|Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen||June 24, 2009||$402.1M||$434.2M||$836.3M||#18
|Transformers: Dark of the Moon||June 29, 2011||$352.4M||$771.4M||$1.12bn||#27
|Transformers: Age of Extinction||June 27, 2014||$245.4M||$858.6M||$1.10bn||#91||#18||$210M|||
|Transformers: The Last Knight||June 21, 2017||$130.2M||$475.3M||$605.4M||#460||#146||$217M|||
|Bumblebee||Dec. 21, 2018||$126.1M||$332.1M||$458.2M||#493||#232||$135M|||
|Total||$bn 1.58||$bn 3.26||$bn 4.84||$972M|
|Transformers||57% (225 reviews)||61 (35 reviews)||A|
|Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen||19% (248 reviews)||35 (32 reviews)||B+|
|Transformers: Dark of the Moon||35% (254 reviews)||42 (37 reviews)||A|
|Transformers: Age of Extinction||18% (202 reviews)||32 (38 reviews)||A−|
|Transformers: The Last Knight||15% (225 reviews)||27 (47 reviews)||B+|
|Bumblebee||93% (217 reviews)||67 (37 reviews)||A−|
Revenge of the Fallen
Dark of the Moon
Age of Extinction
The Last Knight
Golden Raspberry AwardsEdit
|Golden Raspberry Awards||Film|
Revenge of the Fallen
Dark of the Moon
Age of Extinction
The Last Knight
|Worst Picture||Won||Nominated||Nominated||Nominated[note 2]|
|Worst Director||Won||Nominated||Won||Nominated[note 2]|
(Mark Wahlberg)[note 2]
|Worst Supporting Actor||Nominated
(Anthony Hopkins)[note 2]
|Worst Supporting Actress||Nominated
(Laura Haddock)[note 2]
|Worst Screen Couple||Nominated
(Shia LaBeouf and either Megan Fox or any Transformer)
(Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley)
|Worst Screen Ensemble||Nominated
(The entire cast)
|Worst Screen Combo||Nominated
(Any two robots, actors or robotic actors)
(Any combination of two humans, two robots or two explosions)[note 2]
|Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel||Nominated||Nominated||Nominated[note 2]|
|Worst Screenplay||Won||Nominated||Nominated||Nominated[note 2]|
|The Razzie Nominee So Rotten You Loved It||Nominated[note 2]|
|The Razzie Redeemer Award||Pending|
Cast and charactersEdit
- The original Transformers toy line itself was developed out of two then-existing Japanese mecha toy lines — Diaclone and Microman — by Takara. In 2006, Takara merged with Tomy to form a single company, Takara Tomy.
- Referred to as Transformers XVII: The Last Knight on the official nomination list.
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