A couple of months ago, Paramount put together a little Hollywood experiment: pull in a bunch of different writers, lock them in a room for a while and have them devise a miniature cinematic universe for a big franchise. Stuff like that is becoming more and more common in Hollywood, however typically the decision-making is done by guys like Kevin Feige or Diane Nelson rather than hiring a group of writers to do it. That particular franchise in question was Transformers, and the experiment is over. The result? Success!
Deadline has all the deets. At the moment, two movies are officially in the works: Transformers 5, which will see the return of Marky Mark and Michael Bay in a script written by Akiva Goldsman, and an animated Cybertron-set prequel from Ant-Man writers Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari. Exactly 50% of those plans sound interesting.
There were a lot more writers than that though, and together they’ve hatched plans for five movies to expand the universe; there were originally nine, but Steven Spielberg didn’t like those last four. The animated prequel is definitely one of those five, but I doubt Transformers 5 itself (and Transformers 6, which they also apparently have enough material for) is, so there could be seven more movies being manufactured over these next few years. Or I’m wrong and it’s just five. Hopefully I’m wrong. The total list…
- Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Batman and Robin – what a contrast, huh?)
- Christina Hodson (uh, nothing released)
- Lindsey Beer (same as above)
- Andrew Barrer (same as above, although he’s apparently written a script for a Sabrina the Teenage Witch reboot which I had no idea was happening)
- Gabriel Ferrari (same as above!)
- Robert Kirkman (creator of The Walking Dead)
- Steven DeKnight (Daredevil Season 1)
- Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (Iron Man)
- Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk, Pacific Rim: Maelstrom)
- Jeff Pinkner (Lost, The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
- Geneva Robertson-Dworet (uh, nothing released – again)
That’s a pretty hefty list of writers.
Now that everything’s all done-and-dusted, the question remains of whether these movies will be any good. The franchise is finally rid of Ehren Krueger (thank God) so Transformers 5 may actually be somewhat decent, although I highly doubt it. However, an animated movie could be interesting, and hopefully the other ideas didn’t come about from stretching the source material thin. Most of those guys are good writers, but a decent script is one thing; it takes a talented director to bring it to life.
My previously-expressed exasperation comes more from the fact that there have been four movies released that all suck. Yes, that’s largely down to Bay, however the franchise so far has relied on humans as the main characters rather than focusing on the Autobots and Decepticons themselves. To create a functioning universe around this property then they can’t keep doing that, and I don’t know how interested audiences are gonna be about a Dinobots movie or whatever.
Then again, the property has worked on TV plenty of times, and if Steven Spielberg approves it then there must be at least a little bit of good stuff in these scripts. I’m an optimist so I’ll hope for the best with these spin-offs; who knows – they may even turn Transformers into a critically acclaimed franchise.
We won’t truly know how successful the writers room was until 2017 with Transformers 5, however Paramount certainly seemed to think it was worth lots of time and lots of money. Don’t be too shocked to see other studios do this too; it probably won’t be over at Marvel or DC, but there are trickier cinematic universes being set up; the new King Kong/Godzilla monster-verse at Warner Bros, Universal’s resurrection of their own classic monsters, and probably a bunch of others that we don’t even know about.
What do you guys think? Are all these sequels and spin-offs a good idea? Are writers rooms for movies a good idea going forward? Should Transformers be left out to die? Sound off!