Any way you look at, few film franchises have been as successful in recent years as Transformers, which Michael Bay kicked off. Since 2007, we have seen six total films in the Transformers franchise, and those six films have grossed nearly $5 billion worldwide. It's the sort of money-printing film series that you expect to keep going until the heat death of the universe for the success that it has had. And yet, we haven't seen a main entry in the film series since 2017, and exactly what the future of Transformers on the big screen is far from clear right now.
There will be new Transformers movies; that's not really a question. But that piece of information is about all we know for sure. Many of the details are clouded in mystery. There was a time when we knew what to expect from Transformers, but today we have far more questions than we have answers. With that in mind, are the biggest questions we have about the future of the Transformers franchise.
Which Announced Transformers Project Will We See First?
The problem with Transformers right now as a franchise isn't that we don't know where it's going, but rather that it seems to be going in several different directions at once. In fact, there are no less than three types of Transformers movies that are in some form of development right now. In January, we were told that there were two different projects on the horizon. One was an adaptation of the Beast Wars side of Transformers, which sees the robots in disguise transform into animals rather than vehicles. The other potentially was set in the same universe as Bumblebee, the last live-action movie we saw.
Then in April, it was revealed that Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley had been poached from Pixar to work on an animated Transformers "prequel" film. Even more recently, we were told that a new Transformers film is currently slated for release on June 24, 2022. However, we don't which of the various projects is the one that's expected to land on that date. It's even possible the date is being held for yet another project that hasn't been revealed.
Will We Ever See A Proper Sequel To The Michael Bay Movies?
If there's a single question that shows just how far the Transformers film franchise has come, it's this one. There was a time when the answer to this was an obvious yes. And yet, it's been almost three years since Transformers: The Last Knight, and none of the talk about future films seems to be about Transformers 6. The film was on Paramount's schedule for 2019, but before the release of Bumblebee, it was pulled off the calendar has never returned.
The Last Knight certainly ended with an expectation that another movie would follow to answer its lingering questions. In fact, several more movies in the main franchise were planned once upon a time, but now it's far from clear if we will ever see them. It seems likely that if one of the forthcoming Transformers projects was planned to continue the main franchise, that fact would be promoted since it would likely jumpstart excitement in the franchise again.
Will We Ever Get a Bumblebee Sequel?
If the question regarding a sequel to the main Transformers franchise is without an answer, then what about a sequel to the last Transformers movie we got, the spinoff movie Bumblebee? That was a prequel to the main series and also, potentially, a soft reboot that could have taken the franchise in a new direction. Director Travis Knight said he had ideas for a sequel if he was given the chance to make one, so there's at least some interest there.
Of course, when it comes to box office, Bumblebee didn't set the world on fire. It did well at the box office, to be sure, but it wasn't anywhere close to what the main franchise had done even at its previous lowest point. The fact that Bumblebee was the best reviewed film in the franchise didn't seem to help matters. One of the reported Transformers projects in development is said to take place within the "Bumblebee universe," but it's not being called a sequel. That would seem to make the odds of such a movie less likely, but who knows for sure?
Is Michael Bay Really Done With Transformers?
When Michael Bay finished Transformers: The Last Knight, he told us he was done with the franchise and would not be directing the next movie. The thing is, this wasn't the first time he had said he was done making Transformers movies. Originally, Bay had no plans to make that movie either, but he eventually changed his mind. So knowing that, can we be 100% certain that he won't be back?
It would be far from shocking if Michael Bay was a little tired of making movies about giant robots after the first four, nevermind five, but he made them the first time around for some reason. He must have liked doing it enough to keep returning. And the fact that the franchise is in the middle of a break might be a good thing. Bay has made several other films in recent years, so maybe it's possible to entice him back now that he's had some time away. It seems quite likely that Bay's involvement would help the franchise as a whole. It might be what's needed to give the green light Transformers 6.
Could We See Previous Transformers Actors Returning?
Whether we call a future live-action Transformers movie a sequel, a spinoff, a reboot or something else, the possibility of a future movie tying into the existing franchise is almost a necessity in order to keep the fan base that made the previous films so successful from ignoring future installments. But how will we see that work?
Shia LeBeouf has certainly made his peace with Transformers and seems unlikely to return. Mark Wahlberg, who took over the role of franchise lead following LeBeouf's exit, was always planning to leave after The Last Knight even before the sequel was shelved. John Cena and Hailee Steinfeld have both expressed willingness to reprise their roles from Bumblebee, but that only really works in a movie that's chronologically located close in time to that movie, as Bumblebee takes place decades prior to the main films. The one place where we might see continuity is in voice acting. Peter Cullen is the voice of Optimus Prime, and it's hard to imagine anybody else taking on that role.
Will We Ever See The Transformers/G.I. Joe Crossover?
If you're a child of the '80s whose tastes ran to action-adventure in your toys and cartoons, then you were likely a fan of both Transformers and G.I. Joe. Since both were Hasbro toy lines, they've always been linked together and have even met each other in the pages of comic books. But every once in a while, the idea of seeing them join forces on the big screen pops up. So is there any possibility this could happen?
While there have apparently been actual attempts to make it happen in the past, it largely seems like this one is a pipe dream that will never really happen. The timing never seems to be right. At the same time, the G.I. Joe franchise is also looking to find its footing with a new film as well, and as long as there are fans of both Transformers and G.I. Joe, it seems unlikely this idea will ever truly die. So maybe someday.
Do Enough People Still Care About Transformers?
Of course, all these other questions could be moot depending on the answer to another: is the audience still there? The last Transformers movie was, for whatever reason, the lowest performing at the worldwide box office. Maybe that's simply because it was a spinoff that didn't include major fan favorite characters, or maybe it's just because the franchise isn't as popular as it once was. Transformers: The Last Knight also saw the lowest box office take of the main series.
With so many major franchises competing for audience attention, we can't follow all of them with dedication. Is anybody truly dying to see Transformers 6 or Bumblebee 2? I'm not saying nobody cares, but it's unclear if Transformers will truly continue to be the billion dollar franchise it once was, even if the major blockbusters of years past actually happen.
With a new Transformers movie of one kind or another planned for just over two years away, we can be sure that some of our questions about the franchise will start to be answered. Will we see a continuation of the stories and characters that have already been created, or will something new take its place? Of course, depending on what comes next and how successful it is at the box office, we could find ourselves back in this same place once again asking these very same questions.