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How Bumblebee could get the Transformers franchise back on track

Although the TRANSFORMERS franchise has always proved to be more than reliable at the box-office, last year's TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT box-office take was considerably lower than all of the other films in the franchise, amounting to just $604 million. When compared to TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION's $1.10 billion, that's quite the drop. There have been rumblings that Paramount Pictures is looking to reboot the TRANSFORMERS franchise, and it seems that BUMBLEBEE may be the first step in that journey.

The upcoming film looks to be ditching the explosion overload of the Michael Bay films for a more heartfelt story of a girl and a robot, while also drawing more inspiration from the 1980s cartoons and toys. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has been involved with the big-screen franchise for over a decade, but told Entertainment Weekly that changing things up for BUMBLEBEE was a risk that they needed to take.

If you don’t change up, you’re also taking a risk. It’s one of those things where there is no simple answer. You’re taking a risk no matter what you do when you make a big expensive movie, so why not change the formula completely and really hang in there?

The first trailer for BUMBLEBEE was quite promising, and if it succeeds in rejuvenating the franchise, di Bonaventura says that it could even open up the possibility for other standalone TRANSFORMERS movies, such as one focusing on Optimus Prime. "I’d certainly like to do that," di Bonaventura said. "It would be a very different kind of movie than a Bumblebee movie, but equally interesting and different." There was talk of an Optimus Prime standalone movie before the choice was made to go with Bumblebee, but the team ultimately decided that the character was simply too strong. "He’s a stoic leader, and you can count on him," di Bonaventura added. "Whereas Bumblebee is the one who is more emotionally volatile. He has a lot of ups and downs. So it seemed like the best character to try for the first time zeroing in on one Autobot."

Should BUMBLEBEE prove successful, a sequel is almost a guarantee, and di Bonaventura is quick to point out that they could tackle any genre in the future.

If Bee’s successful, we can have a Bee 2, no doubt. We have a good sense of where a second movie would go. For me, the greatest thing that came out of the writer’s room was the sense that we could go in any number of directions. It opened up our minds to choices...We could do a time travel movie. You could take almost any genre and do it. You can go back in the past, you can go to the future. So I think we’ve got an abundance of choices. It’s really more about narrowing them down than anything else, and deciding which one we think is the strongest one to go with next.

Choosing Hailee Steinfeld to lead BUMBLEBEE is another way which the TRANSFORMERS franchise will be changing, and it turns out that Steven Spielberg was the one who suggested it. "Steven had always had an idea that a young girl and Bumblebee would be a great combination, so we headed in that direction," di Bonaventura said. The producer acknowledged that the franchise hasn't always given strong roles to women, but di Bonaventura believes that Steinfeld will prove to be an impressive addition. "I’m just amazed at how talented she is," di Bonaventura said. "I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actor never miss a beat for the entire shoot. It was crazy. We ended up ahead of schedule because she was just so on it all the time. We could move quicker."

The official synopsis for BUMBLEBEE:

On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.

BUMBLEBEE is set for a December 21, 2018 release.

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