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The Transformers film franchise has been one of the most financially successful series in recent memory. The movies have made billions of dollars over the course of five films where massive robots have laid waste to major cities and each other. However, the newest entry in the series, Bumblebee is a very different film. It's not so much a prequel as it is a spinoff with a unique story and tone. Is this a new direction for the franchise as a whole? While Bumblebee director Travis Knight says that he's not specifically aware of any plans to make more spinoffs, he does believe that if this movie is successful, the studio will likely continue making them. According to Knight...
It's hard to say. I think at this point, candidly, they're probably just waiting to see how people react to [Bumblebee]. If people vote with their wallets for these kinds of Transformer movies, then they'll get these kinds of Transformer movies.
It's not exactly an original sentiment, but that's because it's pretty much universally true. Hollywood is a business and they want to make movies that people want to go and see and will buy tickets for. While the main run of Transformers movies aren't exactly critical darlings, they do sell tickets, which is why we've continued to see more of them. If people like what they get with Bumblebee there's a good chance they'll get more.
And from the early word, it seems like there's a good chance that a lot of people will like what they get. Bumblebee is the best reviewed Transformers movie to date, so there is clearly something in the spinoff that critics haven't seen in the previous films. If the critical response helps drive moviegoers to check out Bumblebee then it would seem that the movie will absolutely bring in the dollars that the studio will want to see and Travis Knight's comments to CNET will prove fortuitous.
Of course, one has to wonder how that will play with the traditional Transformers movie fans. As previously stated, those movies have had no issues making money before, which means there's an audience for the massive world-destroying robot movies, regardless of what they're level of cinematic "quality" is supposed to be. Even if the audience that has been rejecting Transformers movies, in general, embraces Bumblebee, what exactly will be the net result if the normal Transformers audience doesn't show up?
At this point, we really don't know what the future of the Transformers franchise will be, beyond the fact that there will be one. The movies are huge and so we know they're not going anywhere. Michael Bay has said he's done directing the films and Mark Wahlberg has implied that he also won't be back, meaning the main series will need a new human lead character.
And if we do get more spinoffs following Bumblebee the question becomes what exactly would they be? Which characters do the new movies follow? Do they try to follow in the footsteps of Bumblebee or try to do something very different?
Bumblebee hits theaters Friday.