As if movies weren’t being treated like TV episodes enough, Paramount Picture recently set into motion a plan to put together a “writer’s room” for its Transformers series. The braintrust of Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg, and Lorenzo di Bonaventura set screenwriter/producer Akiva Goldsman to oversee a group of writers that would develop ideas and scripts for Transformers sequels and spinoffs, and now that writers room has been set.
Per Deadline, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Punisher: War Zone scribes Art Marcum & Matt Holloway, The Incredible Hulk screenwriter Zak Penn, and Lost alum Jeff Pinkner will fill out the roster of Goldsman’s Transformers team. Somewhat tellingly, both Kirkman and Pinkner have deep ties to the television world (Kirkman now has two Walking Dead shows at AMC), though Pinkner made the leap to feature films with last year’s Amazing Spider-Man 2. Penn also has strong ties to genre material, as he’s the screenwriter behind Ready Player One with Spielberg attached to direct, and he’s also writing Pacific Rim 2.
The plan is to develop the ideas for a series of films amongst this group of writers, and then set each person/team to pen his or her individual movie. This practice has actually become common as of late, with James Cameron assembling three teams of screenwriters to break the stories for all three Avatar sequels at the same time before assigning each team an individual script to write. Sony also tried a similar approach with its Spider-Man franchise post-ASM2, but those plans were subsequently scrapped when Marvel came to the rescue.
This Transformers writer’s room is quite literally approaching feature films like television, and the question here is whether each individual film can be satisfying in and of itself, or if the movies will feel like episodes of a larger arc. No doubt the hope is to make standalone films, but Paramount likely isn’t too concerned as long as the next Transformers film—be it a sequel or a spinoff—comes to fruition quickly. Despite a critical shellacking, Transformers: Age of Extinction grossed $1.1 billion worldwide. This is a franchise that won’t be going away anytime soon.