Japanese entertainment magazine The River, once again sat down with Transformers Live Action Movie Series producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura to discuss the future of the series.
The usual question of whether Transformers: Bumblebee is a Prequel or a Reboot is asked once again; but this time with regards to the statement made by Hasbro during Toy Fair 2019, where it was described as a ‘new storytelling universe’.
It is also implied that the series will now take a similar approach to Warner Bros.’ DC Series course correction; where the attention is given to each individual film while not focusing on a broader “Cinematic Universe”.
Other notable questions:
- Possible return of Travis Knight for the sequel of Transformers: Bumblebee.
- Robot designs.
- Sequel to Transformers: The Last Knight.
- Role of Unicron on future movies.
Due to the length of the interview, we will only be translating the parts highlighting the future of the franchise, and you can read it all, after the jump.
The River: Is Transformers: Bumblebee a reboot or a prequel?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: That’s a good question (laughs). In fact it is a spin off. It is a story before the series, set in 1987. In other words, neither a reboot nor a remake. It is a story before  starts. So you can fill in the blank time from 1987 to the first Transformers movie.
The River: “Transformers: Bumblebee is a new storytelling universe”. What does that statement mean to you?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: “Freedom”, isn’t it? The difficulty in developing a movie series is the fact that constraints increase as you move forward. In the early days of the series, you have the freedom to start new things. You do not have to follow the rules established in other films. In Bumblebee, different approaches and different productions were possible.
The River: Do you have plans for a new film maker in addition to Michael Bay and Travis Knight in future works?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: For the sequel to Transformers: Bumblebee, I hope Travis Knight will return. On the other hand, I do not yet know what to do with the ‘Transformers” main series’. I am currently working on a script. I learned many things in Bumblebee, so I think it will be useful in the Transformers series. More emotional, more character-oriented, etc.
The River: What exactly do you mean by ‘character oriented’?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Even if there are no big explosion or anything, the audience will accept the patience to concentrate on one character. In Bumblebee, I wanted to make a film that feels emotion and warmth, but I think that it requires patience to continue to observe the relationship developed between the two. Don’t do a big explosion every few minutes. I have learned that you can like this style as well. I think that it will be utilized in the sequel of both Bumblebee and Transformers.
The River: Certainly, Bumblebee has changed the style significantly. Were you concerned?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: While there are many characters in ‘Transformers’, there are only 3 characters in “Bumblebee” (and 4 if we count Optimus). About 15 characters were made for ‘The Last Knight’, so it was a big difference. I was worried when I thought of this. But there was no reaction regarding what I was concerned about. I enjoyed the characters depicted in this work, and I also liked the Decepticons. So in future works, I wonder if the characterization should be more complicated.
The River: The transformation sequences of the Autobots were also great. It reminded me of my childhood when I transformed toys.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: The first request from Travis was to reduce parts. With each ‘Transformers’ movie, the part count increased. ‘The Last Knight’ had about 1,000 parts per body. I cannot concentrate on the transformation scene. I thought that the movement of parts was well understood [in Transformers: Bumblebee] and fresh when tried to make it simple.
The River: Lorenzo, tell us about the business that drives a big series like Transformers.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: “I’m going to make a series”, I will fail if I have an arrogant idea like that. The movie series I’ve been involved with was always about “I’m making a movie”. Focusing on just one, and then there is the next. Because it worked well. It is tough to do with the idea of making three from the beginning. It’s hard to make a good movie.
Culture has changed in the last few years, and people’s preferences have also changed. In a series like ‘Transformers’ I always push the visual side and flashy battles. Technology also evolves, so you can do more big things and change things. If you keep doing the same thing, you will be told by the fans “make something like the previous one.” But if you do it, you get bored. The reason is that while the elements of the previous work are also required in part, it is important to have a balance that incorporates new things. So I try to make small changes every time.
The River: That’s difficult, isn’t it? You are asked for the same thing, but you need change, but you cannot do too much change.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Exactly! That’s right. In the long journey so far, we have done a lot of experiments. Sometimes I use script to extend an idea and try out the feel. At one point, I would like to change the direction slightly in the middle, in order to introduce a new idea that floated in the midst of production.
The River: Well, as a fan of the series, I am concerned about the continuation of the main series. In the previous work ‘The Last Knight King’, it ended with the suggested appearance of Unicron. What’s going on? According to what I heard, Lorenzo does not like Unicron (laughs).
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Yes, that’s right.
The River: The sequel to ‘The Last Knight’ has to be the story of Unicron, right?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: I will tell you why (laughs). Unicron is too big to be caught up with fear. The size is beyond imagination. How on Earth are you going to fight it? It would not be good if it was a big one.
The River: When will we see the sequel to ‘The Last Knight’? The sequel to Bumblebee is being considered, and there is also the possibility of a new spin-off. What will be the next work for ‘Transformers’?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: I do not know what will be the next work. It’s up to the screenplay. Currently, two scripts are in progress; one of them is the main series sequel. It doesn’t feel like I’ll start with that script. We are still in the process of putting together ideas with scriptwriters. We all like the idea of a Bumblebee and Optimus Prime buddy movie, but that may change in the future. Maybe if someone brought in a great idea for an Optimus Prime solo film, and it would be “Good! Let’s do it!” (Laughs). The plan is undecided, but it is also an interesting part of this job.