The Deadpool effect is in, well, full effect. We’re not three days away from the R-rated superhero pic’s smashing box office success, and we’re already seeing studios attempting to learn lessons from Fox’s gamble. The first, it appears, is Paramount with its Transformers franchise. We learned last week that the Transformers 6 that the studio plopped down on a June 2018 release date is, in fact, a spinoff revolving around the character of Bumblebee rather than a fully fledged Transformers sequel (which makes sense—even with lazy scripts, these crazy expensive movies can’t be made that fast). Now, word comes that the Bumblebee spinoff will be a “lower cost” movie, which in the wake of Deadpool feels like a direct response to how Fox approached the Ryan Reynolds-fronted pic.
Speaking with THR, Paramount CEO Brad Grey revealed their angle for the Bumblebee movie will differ from how they’ve tackled previous Transformers films:
“There are characters in the Transformers universe that can be and should be made into their own movies. We will make the first movie with Michael and go right into a Bumblebee movie, which will be at a lower cost.”
The “Michael” he’s referring to there is, of course, Michael Bay, who is back by popular (studio) demand to helm Transformers 5, which he pinky promises is his last Transformers movie. It’s understandable why Paramount would want him back—with Bay at the helm, the Transformers films make billions upon billions of dollars, so why rock the boat?. But it’s kind of insane that one guy will have directed five movies in a massive franchise. That’s a lot, especially for an auteur like Bay. Whatever you think of his product, Bay’s signature as a filmmaker is fully formed, so it’d be like if Steven Spielberg directed five Jaws or Jurassic Park movies.
So what will this Bumblebee movie, then, entail exactly? For one, it’ll be the first Transformers movie not directed by Bay, so rather than jumping straight into a Bay-less sequel, Paramount will first soften the blow by introducing audiences to a different kind of Transformers film. The studio assembled a writer’s room to develop stories for future spinoffs and sequels, headed up by Akiva Goldsman, but it’s unclear which writers will be tasked with penning the Bumblebee film.
Moreover, what does a “lower budget” Transformers movie look like? Transformers: Age of Extinction alone cost $210 million, so half that is still a pretty decent-sized blockbuster. But if Bumblebee is the true star of this movie, the studio can get away with not having to pay for A-list talent onscreen, which will give more room to fill out the VFX.
Whatever the case, I’m curious to see if this approach pays off. I understand Bumblebee is a popular toy, but are audiences really itching to see the dialogue-less character get his own movie? I suppose we’ll find out on June 8, 2018.