Transformers (film series)

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Transformers
Logo of Transformers.png
Official franchise logo
Directed by
Produced by
Based on Transformers 
by Hasbro
Starring
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release dates
2007 – present
Running time
615 minutes (4 films)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $755,000,000
Box office $3,773,861,624

Transformers is a series of American science fiction action films based on the toys created by Hasbro and Tomy. The first four were directed by Michael Bay, including Transformers (2007), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) and Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014).[1][2][3] With Bay directing the fifth film, Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), as his last film, a Bumblebee spin-off is scheduled in 2018 and a seventh film scheduled in 2019. The series has been distributed by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks.

The series has received a mixed critical reception; critics expressed criticism on the plots, crude humor, overuse of product placements, and the lengths of the films. However, many praised the visual effects, action sequences, and music. It is currently the 9th highest-grossing film series and the 4th highest-grossing when averaged to gross per film, behind the The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Pirates of the Caribbean film series. Two films in the series have grossed $1 billion.

Films[edit]

Transformers (2007)[edit]

Transformers is the first film in the series, released on July 3, 2007. It grossed $709.7 million worldwide, and garnered generally favorable reviews. It was directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman from a story by Kurtzman, Orci and John Rogers, and starred Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)[edit]

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the second film in the series, released on June 24, 2009. It grossed $836.3 million worldwide, and garnered negative reviews, scoring 19% on Rotten Tomatoes to the first film's 57%. It was directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and starred Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)[edit]

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the third film in the series, released on June 29, 2011 in 3D and IMAX 3D. It grossed $1.124 billion worldwide, and garnered mixed reviews with a 35% on Rotten Tomatoes and was better received than Revenge of the Fallen. It was directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay by Ehren Kruger and starred Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)[edit]

Transformers: Age of Extinction is the fourth film in the series, released on June 27, 2014 in 3D and IMAX 3D. It grossed $1.104 billion worldwide, and garnered negative reviews, holding, at 18%, the worst score on Rotten Tomatoes of the series thus far. It was directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay by Ehren Kruger, and starred Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci.

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)[edit]

Transformers: The Last Knight is the fifth film in the series. Filming started in June 2016 and it is expected to be released on June 23, 2017.[4] It is being directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay by Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan, and will star Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci.

Untitled Bumblebee spin-off (2018)[edit]

On February 12, 2016, Tom Warner, the Transformers franchise leader for Hasbro announced that the next film of the series would be released on June 8, 2018. Later it was revealed that rather than a main entry, the film will be a spin-off, starring Bumblebee.[5]

Untitled sixth film (2019)[edit]

In his February 12, 2016 announcement, Tom Warner, the Transformers franchise leader for Hasbro also stated that a sequel to Transformers: The Last Knight would be released on June 28, 2019. It is currently untitled as of now. [5][6]

Further films[edit]

As part of the writers' room collaboration, rendered by Paramount Pictures to determine the future of the franchise; a film centered around the origins of the Autobots and Decepticons, tentatively titled Transformers One, is currently in development with Ant-Man screenwriters Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari attached to the film.[7]

On March 28th, 2013 during the release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, producer di Bonaventura announced that he is open to doing a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover.[8] 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.[9] Despite di Bonaventura having stated on June 23, 2014 that a crossover was not likely to happen,[10] he later stated that a crossover was still a possibility.[11]

On October 23, 2015, Jon M. Chu confirmed his intentions to make a crossover film between Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Jem.[12] On October 29, 2015, Chu hinted about Transformers possibly doing crossover with other Hasbro products.[13]

Expanded universe[edit]

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 that weren't expanded on enough in the films.

Cast and characters[edit]

Production and development[edit]

Transformers[edit]

For the first film, producer Don Murphy was planning a G.I. Joe film adaptation, but when the United States launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Hasbro suggested adapting the Transformers franchise instead.[14] Tom DeSanto joined Murphy because he was a fan of the series.[15] They met with comic book writer Simon Furman, and cited the Generation 1 cartoon and comics as their main influence.[14] They made the Creation Matrix their plot device, though Murphy had it renamed because of the film series The Matrix.[16] DeSanto chose to write the treatment from a human point of view to engage the audience,[17] while Murphy wanted it to have a realistic tone, reminiscent of a disaster film.[16] 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.[18]

Steven Spielberg, a fan of the comics and toys,[15] signed on as executive producer in 2004. John Rogers wrote the first draft, which pitted four Autobots against four Decepticons,[19] and featured the Ark spaceship.[20] Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, fans of the cartoon,[21] were hired to rewrite the script in February 2005.[22] Spielberg suggested that "a boy and his car" should be the focus.[23] This appealed to Orci and Kurtzman because it conveyed themes of adulthood and responsibility, "the things that a car represents in the United States".[24] The characters of Sam and Mikaela were the sole point of view given in Orci and Kurtzman's first draft.[25] 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.[21] The first draft also had a battle scene in the Grand Canyon.[26] Spielberg read each of Orci and Kurtzman's drafts and gave notes for improvement.[23] 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).[27] Furman's The Ultimate Guide, published by Dorling Kindersley, remained as a resource to the writers throughout production.[27] Prime Directive was used as a fake working title. This was also the name of Dreamwave Productions' first Transformers comic book.[28]

Michael Bay was asked to direct by Spielberg on July 30, 2005,[29] but he dismissed the film as a "stupid toy movie".[30] Nonetheless, he wanted to work with Spielberg, and gained a new respect for the mythology upon visiting Hasbro.[29] Bay considered the first draft "too kiddie", so he increased the military's role in the story.[29][31] The writers sought inspiration from G.I. Joe for the soldier characters, being careful not to mix the brands.[32] 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.[33] Bay based Lennox' struggle to get to the Pentagon phoneline while struggling with an unhelpful operator from a real account he was given by a soldier when working on another film.[29]

Orci and Kurtzman experimented with numerous robots from the franchise, ultimately selecting the characters most popular among the filmmakers to form the final cast.[15] Bay acknowledged that most of the Decepticons were selected before their names or roles were developed, as Hasbro had to start designing the toys.[citation needed][34] Some of their names were changed because Bay was upset that they had been leaked.[35] Optimus, Megatron, Bumblebee and Starscream were the only characters present in each version of the script.[21] 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.[32] 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.[25]

Revenge of the Fallen[edit]

For the second film, Paramount announced a late June 2009 release date for the sequel to Transformers in September 2007.[36] 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.[37][38] 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".[39] The film was given a $200 million budget, which was $50 million more than the 2007 film,[40] 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.[41] 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.[42]

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.[37] The studio also signed on Ehren Kruger, as he impressed Bay and Hasbro president Brian Goldner with his knowledge of the Transformers mythology,[43] and because he was friends with Orci and Kurtzman.[44] The writing trio were paid $8 million.[37] 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,[44] and Bay expanded the outline into a sixty-page scriptment,[45] fleshing out the action, adding more jokes,[44] as well as selecting the majority of new characters.[46] 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.[47]

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.[48] He wanted the focus between the robots and humans "much more evenly balanced",[49] "the stakes [to] be higher", and more focused on the science fiction elements.[50] Lorenzo di Bonaventura said that in total, there are around forty robots in the film,[40] while ILM's Scott Farrar has said there are actually sixty.[51] Orci added he wanted to "modulate" the humor more,[52] and felt he managed the more "outrageous" jokes by balancing it with a more serious plot approach to the Transformers' mythology.[53] Bay concurred that he wanted to please fans by making the tone darker,[54] and that "moms will think its safe enough to bring the kids back out to the movies" despite his trademark sense of humor.[55]

Before Transformers was released, producer DeSanto had "a very cool idea" to introduce the Dinobots,[56] while Bay was interested in an aircraft carrier, which was dropped from the 2007 film.[57] 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,[48] and were unable to fit in the aircraft carrier.[58] 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,[59] but he became fonder of them during filming because of their popularity with fans.[60] 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."[61] However, upon being asked on the subject, Michael Bay said he hated the Dinobots and they had never been in consideration for being featured in the movies.[62]

Dark of the Moon[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.

— [63]

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".[64] 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.[65]

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.[66] Due to the revived interest in 3-D technology brought in by the success of Avatar,[67] 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.[68] 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,[69] 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."[70] 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.[71] In addition to using the 3-D Fusion camera rigs developed by Cameron's team,[70][72] Bay and the team spent nine months developing a more portable 3-D camera that could be brought into location.[69]

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.[73] 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.[73] 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.[74] 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.[75] On March 19, 2010, the script was said to be finished.[76]

Age of Extinction[edit]

For the fourth film, producer di Bonaventura stated that a fourth film is in the works aiming for a 2014 release with Michael Bay to direct and produce the film.[77] On the same day, Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay announced a June 27, 2014 release date for a fourth film.[78] Ehren Kruger will pen the script and Steve Jablonsky will score the film, as each did with the previous film.[79][80] The film will take place four years after the events in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.[81] Shia LaBeouf will not return in any future installments. Mark Wahlberg has instead been cast in the lead role.[82][83][84] 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 the daughter of Mark Wahlberg's character while Luke Grimes, Landon Liboiron, Brenton Thwaites, Jack Reynor and Hunter Parrish were all considered to play the race car driving boyfriend.[85] It is also reported that the three leads are contracted for three films.[citation needed] Bay announced on his website that Reynor is the race car driving boyfriend and that the fourth film will start the next installment in the overall series. The film will be a darker sequel to Dark of the Moon and that Transformers 4 will have a different feeling.[86] Peter Cullen, who voiced Optimus Prime in the films, will reprise his role.[87] Tyrese Gibson is in talks to reprise his role.[88] Glenn Morshower stated that he was contracted for two films and he will reprise his role,[89] but was later confirmed that Morshower would not be returning.[90] Filming is expected to take place between April and November 2013 in London with a budget of $165 million once Pain & Gain, a film that Bay is also directing, is finished editing.[91][92]

On January 8, 2013, it was announced that Reynor would be joining Wahlberg in the lead. On the Michaelbay.com forums, Nelson, the administrator of the website, confirmed that filming will take place in Chicago.[93] On March 20, 2013, The film's plot reads: As humanity picks up the pieces, following the conclusion of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Autobots and Decepticons have all but vanished from the face of the planet. However, a group of powerful, ingenious businessman and scientists attempt to learn from past Transformer incursions and push the boundaries of technology beyond what they can control – all while an ancient, powerful Transformer menace sets Earth in his crosshairs. The epic adventure and battle between good and evil, freedom and enslavement ensues. But it was later to be inaccurate.[94]

On March 26, 2013, Nicola Peltz was cast as the female lead.[95] Bay confirmed that the movie will be in 3D.[96] Bay revealed to Collider that actor Stanley Tucci has joined the cast, and that the film will be the first feature film to be shot using smaller digital IMAX 3D cameras.[97] On May 1, 2013, actor Kelsey Grammer is cast as the lead human villain named "Harold Attinger".[98] On May 6, 2013, actress Sophia Myles is cast in a major supporting role.[99] That same month, Chinese actress Li Bingbing and comedian T. J. Miller joined the cast.[100][101]

Actor T. J. Miller has been confirmed to have joined the cast, playing Mark Wahlberg's character's best friend who is a mechanic.[102] Also revealed are two Autobots who will 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. Also revealed is a truck from Western Star Trucks will be Optimus Prime's new alternate mode for the new movie.[103] Bumblebee's new alt mode has been revealed to be a modified vintage 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, which later transforms into a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Concept.[104] A green military vehicle (later confirmed to be Hound) and a white Emergency Response Vehicle have also been revealed.[105]

Filming began in June 2013, being carried on in Detroit,[106] Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong.

Future and shared universe[edit]

On March 28, 2013, during the release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, producer di Bonaventura announced that he is open to doing a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover.[8] 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.[9] Despite di Bonaventura having stated on June 23, 2014 that a crossover was not likely to happen,[10] he later stated that a crossover was still a possibility.[11]

In March 2015, Akiva Goldsman was tasked to create a "Transformers Cinematic Universe", as to oversee the development of a multi-part sequel, along with prequels and spin-off films in a "writer’s room" style brain trust.[107] In May 2015, Deadline reported that Robert Kirkman, Zak Penn, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Jeff Pinkner, Andrew Barrer, Gabrial Ferrari, Christina Hodson, Lindsey Beer, Ken Nolan, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and Steven DeKnight will write spin-offs, potentially titled Beast Wars and Transformers One and sequels for the franchise.[108][109][110][111][112] At least 12 films will be pitched for the "Transformers Cinematic Universe".[113] On September 17, 2015, Deadline reported that Barrer and Ferrari will write an animated film that will explore the origins in Cybertron, with a working title Transformers One.[114] The writer's room also resulted in the three announced Transformer films which are currently in development.

On October 23, 2015, Jon M. Chu confirmed his intentions to make a crossover film between Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Jem.[12] On October 29, 2015, Chu hinted about Transformers possibly doing crossover with other Hasbro products.[13]

Crew[edit]

Film Director Writer(s) Producer(s) Composer Director of photography Editor(s)
Transformers Michael Bay Screenplay by:
Roberto Orci
Alex Kurtzman
Story by:
John Rogers
Roberto Orci
Alex Kurtzman
Don Murphy
Tom DeSanto
Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Ian Bryce
Steve Jablonsky Mitchell Amundsen Tom Muldoon
Paul Rubell
Glen Scantlebury
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Ehren Kruger
Roberto Orci
Alex Kurtzman
Steve Jablonsky
Linkin Park
Ben Seresin Roger Barton
Tom Muldoon
Joel Negron
Paul Rubell
Transformers: Dark of the Moon Ehren Kruger Steve Jablonsky Amir Mokri Roger Barton
William Goldenberg
Joel Negron
Transformers: Age of Extinction Steve Jablonsky
Imagine Dragons
William Goldenberg
Roger Barton
Paul Rubell
Transformers: The Last Knight Matt Holloway
Art Marcum
Ken Nolan
Steve Jablonsky Jonathan Sela Mark Sanger

Reception[edit]

Academy Awards[edit]

Award Film
Transformers
(2007)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
(2009)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
(2011)
Transformers: Age of Extinction
(2014)
Sound Editing Nomination Nomination
Sound Mixing Nomination
Visual Effects Nomination Nomination

Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Reference
North America Other
territories
Worldwide All time
North America
All time
worldwide
Transformers July 3, 2007 $319,246,193 $390,463,587 $709,709,780 #36
#114(A)
#69 $150 million [115]
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen June 24, 2009 $402,111,870 $434,191,823 $836,303,693 #18
#81(A)
#44 $200 million [116]
Transformers: Dark of the Moon June 29, 2011 $352,390,543 $771,403,536 $1,123,794,079 #27
#129(A)
#10 $195 million [117]
Transformers: Age of Extinction June 27, 2014 $245,439,076 $858,614,996 $1,104,054,072 #91 #14 $210 million [118]
Total $1,319,187,682 $2,454,673,942 $3,773,861,624 $755 million [119]
List indicator(s)
  • (A) indicates the adjusted totals based on current ticket prices (calculated by Box Office Mojo).

Critical and public reception[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Transformers 57% (219 reviews)[120] 61 (35 reviews)[121] A[122]
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 19% (242 reviews)[123] 35 (32 reviews)[124] B+[122]
Transformers: Dark of the Moon 35% (245 reviews)[125] 42 (37 reviews)[126] A[122]
Transformers: Age of Extinction 18% (180 reviews)[127] 32 (38 reviews)[128] A-[122]
Average 32% 43 A-

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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