TRANSFORMERS: How Far The Writers Room Progressed, And Why Michael Bay Returned To The Series

– by Joseph Medina
Image via Paramount

Image via Paramount

Love it or hate it, director Michael Bay has helped to make the Transformers what it is today: a successful, multi-billion dollar franchise. Sure, the films may not be known for their amazing quality, but regardless of what film geeks like us think, there’s no denying that mainstream moviegoers head out to the theaters in droves. Paramount knows this, and that’s why they’re always all too eager to accept Michael Bay back when he so feels the itch.

But these films are quite an investment of time and effort, and it’s no wonder that after each film, no one is ever sure if Michael Bay will be returning for the next. Such was the case after the release of Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth film in the franchise. In fact, if we had bet on whether or not he would have returned, we likely would have lost. But, as he did three previous times, Michael Bay came back. The big question regarding Transformers: The Last Knight is why? Why did Michael Bay return for a fifth outing?

Speaking with Screen Rant, Bay himself mentioned that it was the Writers Room that had attracted him. For those unfamiliar, following the release of Age of Extinction, Paramount set up a Writers Room (led by Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman) to outline several Transformers projects. This way, they could potentially ensure that each successive film would actually be great films. In the age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, garbage blockbuster films are slowly becoming a thing of the past, so Transformers was facing pressure to keep up.

Here’s what Bay had to say:

“The writers room was big. It was an inspiration. I think I was ready to go shoot or something in about 13 hours and I had to sit for 6 to 7 hours, I had 12 writers pitch me their 45 minute stories, and I’m sitting there and I’m concentrating, not that I’m getting bored, but my mind is also going a million miles per hour, I’m completely spacing out cause I’m trying to think “Where’s the movie? What’s the movie?” and they went from the beginning of time to whatever. Some really smart people came up with great ideas. Spielberg and I latched on to a couple ideas that are great for spinoffs, there’s a great historical thing. As I told Paramount, we were doing one movie, then the next movie, then the next movie, and it’s hard. We need a Bible where we can start really taking what we’ve done. Now, they write down all that we’ve done and try to meld it. How do you cement into something new, so that you’ve got all this?”

Bay also took this time to talk up how different Transformers: The Last Knight would be from any other entry, and how it challenged him in all new ways:

“The palette on this one is the most different I’ve ever done. It will be the most different. The third act is spectacular looking. It’s stuff that I’ve never done that excites me. It’s stuff that’s really complicated. I say: ‘I have no f***ing idea how we’re going to shoot this.’ It’s fun. That’s the fun of it. How do you keep it human? We’ve really grounded it with Anthony Hopkins’s character. I’ve always wanted to work with that guy.”

And as to whether or not he’d be back for Transformers 6:

“Never ask someone that when they’re dog tired. I’ve lost 8 pounds running around. I like doing a small one and then a big one. It’s fun doing a big one but I like small ones too. I liked 13 Hours and Pain & Gain as well. They’re fun.”

Fair enough. But let’s take a step back and talk about that illustrious and inspirational Writers Room. We’ve heard a lot of news coming out of the room itself, but at the end of the day, we still don’t know for sure how far along the writers planned? How many movies does Paramount plan to keep moving forward with these? The obvious answer is “until they stop making money,” but what do they have planned? How many movies do they have outlined?

Also speaking with Screen Rant, The Last Knight producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who stated that while they haven’t started writing those scripts just yet…but they do have outlines through Transformers 7.

Here’s what di Bonaventura had to say in regards to their actual progress in writing the screenplays for the sequels.

“We haven’t even started. Actually, we have outlines, and I think one of the things was we did not want to rush to start those scripts, because we felt like–and it turns out we were right–that this was going to evolve. So we would have had a script that wouldn’t have related to where we’ve evolved to.
“So I think that’s probably the next conversation that’s going to come up, is OK, now that we really know where we’re headed and how we’re headed, what is it–what does the tone of it feel like? You discover things along the way. Ideas you had–I find what’s so much fun about making any film is ideas you had that you thought were great don’t turn out so great, and ideas you were like ‘Eh, it’s pretty good,’ turn out really great. You’re like, ‘How did that happen?’”

Well, despite the quality of the last few Transformers films, I am very interested to see what kind of impact this Writers Room has on the finished product. My gut told me that as soon as Bay signed on, he’d throw a lot of their work out the window, but from the sound of it, it’s very much shaped his excitement going forward, so I could be wrong.

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SOURCES: Screen Rant (1), (2)

Film, News Transformers 5, Transformers: The Last Knight, Michael Bay, Transformers, Lorenzo di Bonaventura