The film series has received mixed to negative reception, including criticism on the plots, juvenile humor, overuse of product placements and the lengths of the films. However, many have praised the visual effects, action sequences and music. It is the 10th highest-grossing film series, with a total of $4.3 billion; two films in the series have individually grossed over $1 billion.
Transformers – The first film in the series, released on July 3, 2007. It grossed $709 million worldwide. It was directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and a story by Kurtzman, Orci and John Rogers, and starred Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – The second film in the series, released on June 24, 2009. It grossed $836.3 million worldwide. It was directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay written by Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and starred Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon – The third film in the series, released on June 29, 2011, in 3D and IMAX 3D. It grossed $1.124 billion worldwide. It was directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay written by Ehren Kruger and starred Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Transformers: Age of Extinction – The fourth film in the series, released on June 27, 2014, in 2D and 3D. It grossed $1.104 billion worldwide. It was directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay written by Ehren Kruger, and starred Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci.
Transformers: The Last Knight – The fifth film in the series, released on June 21, 2017, in 2D and 3D. It grossed $605.4 million worldwide. It was directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay written by Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan, and starred Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Hopkins. This also marks Bay's final entry as director, as the studio will search for a new director to take over future sequels.
Bumblebee – The sixth film in the series, a spin-off and a prequel to the 2007 film, set for release on December 21, 2018. It is being directed by Travis Knight from a screenplay written by Christina Hodson, featuring the story of Bumblebee, set in 1986, and will star Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr.. Filming began in August 2017.
On February 12, 2016 announcement, Tom Warner, the Transformers franchise leader for Hasbro, also stated that a sequel to Transformers: The Last Knight, is to be released on June 28, 2019. It has been called "Transformers 6", but is untitled now and the studio is in search for a new director for the sixth film. In May 2015, it was reported that a film centered around the origins of the Autobots and Decepticons, tentatively titled Transformers One, is in development with Ant-Man and the Wasp screenwriters Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari. This followed a writers' room collaboration rendered by Paramount Pictures to determine the future of the Transformers franchise. On March 28, 2013, during the release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, producer di Bonaventura announced that he is open to doing a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover. On July 26, 2013, G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu stated that he is also interested in directing a Transformers/G.I. Joe crossover film. Despite di Bonaventura stating that a crossover was not likely to happen in June 2014, he later said that a crossover was still a possibility. On October 23, 2015, Jon M. Chu confirmed his intentions to make a crossover film between Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Jem. On October 29, 2015, Chu hinted about Transformers possibly doing crossovers with other Hasbro products. On January 18, 2017, D.J. Caruso, who is set to direct the third G.I. Joe movie, stated that the script for the crossover movie is being written.
In April 2017, Michael Bay stated that, as a result of the writers' room, there are fourteen stories completed for potential future Transformers films.
In addition to the films, the film series has a promotional expanded series that is set both before and after the events of the films. This includes comic books, video games, and novels. While the novels are partially based on the films themselves, and the video games aren't in the same continuity as the films, the comic books and graphic novels are in the same continuity and fill in several parts of the stories from the films.
For the first film, producer Don Murphy was planning a G.I. Joe film adaptation, but when the U.S. launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Hasbro suggested adapting the Transformers franchise instead. Tom DeSanto joined Murphy because he was a fan of the series. They met with comic book writer Simon Furman, and cited the Generation 1 cartoon and comics as their main influence. They made the Creation Matrix their plot device, though Murphy had it renamed because of the film series The Matrix. DeSanto chose to write the treatment from a human point of view to engage the audience, while Murphy wanted it to have a realistic tone, reminiscent of a disaster film. The treatment featured the Autobots Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Jazz, Prowl, Arcee, Ratchet, Wheeljack, and Bumblebee, and the Decepticons Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Ravage, Laserbeak, Rumble, Skywarp and Shockwave.
Steven Spielberg, a fan of the comics and toys, signed on as executive producer in 2004. John Rogers wrote the first draft, which pitted four Autobots against four Decepticons, and featured the Ark spaceship. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, fans of the cartoon, were hired to rewrite the script in February 2005. Spielberg suggested that "a boy and his car" should be the focus. This appealed to Orci and Kurtzman because it conveyed themes of adulthood and responsibility, "the things that a car represents in the United States". The characters of Sam and Mikaela were the sole point of view given in Orci and Kurtzman's first draft. The Transformers had no dialogue, as the producers feared talking robots would look ridiculous. The writers felt that even if it would look silly, not having the robots speak would betray the fanbase. The first draft also had a battle scene in the Grand Canyon. Spielberg read each of Orci and Kurtzman's drafts and gave notes for improvement. The writers remained involved throughout production, adding additional dialogue for the robots during the sound mixing (although none of this was kept in the final film, which ran fifteen minutes shorter than the initial edit). Furman's The Ultimate Guide, published by Dorling Kindersley, remained as a resource to the writers throughout production. Prime Directive was used as a fake working title. This was also the name of Dreamwave Productions' first Transformers comic book.
Michael Bay was asked to direct by Spielberg on July 30, 2005, but he dismissed the film as a "stupid toy movie". Nonetheless, he wanted to work with Spielberg, and gained a new respect for the mythology upon visiting Hasbro. Bay considered the first draft "too kiddie", so he increased the military's role in the story. The writers sought inspiration from G.I. Joe for the soldier characters, being careful not to mix the brands. Because Orci and Kurtzman were concerned the film could feel like a military recruitment commercial, they chose to make the military believe nations like Iran were behind the Decepticon attack as well as making the Decepticons primarily military vehicles. Bay based Lennox's struggle to get to the Pentagon phone line while struggling with an unhelpful operator from a real account he was given by a soldier when working on another film.
Orci and Kurtzman experimented with numerous robots from the franchise, ultimately selecting the characters most popular among the filmmakers to form the final cast. Bay acknowledged that most of the Decepticons were selected before their names or roles were developed, as Hasbro had to start designing the toys. Some of their names were changed because Bay was upset that they had been leaked. Optimus, Megatron, Bumblebee and Starscream were the only characters present in each version of the script. Arcee was a female Transformer introduced by Orci and Kurtzman, but she was cut because they found it difficult to explain robotic gender; Bay also disliked her motorcycle form, which he found too small. An early idea to have the Decepticons simultaneously strike multiple places around the world was also dropped, being used later in the film's sequels.
In September 2007, Paramount announced a late June 2009 release date for the sequel to Transformers. A major hurdle that was overcome during the film's production was the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, as well as possible strikes by the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild. Bay began creating animatics of action sequences featuring characters rejected for the 2007 film; this would allow animators to complete sequences if the Directors Guild of America went on strike in July 2008, which ultimately did not happen. The director considered making a small project in between Transformers and its sequel, but knew "you have your baby and you don't want someone else to take it". The film was given a $200 million budget, which was $50 million more than the 2007 film, and some of the action scenes rejected for the original were written into the sequel, such as the way Optimus is reintroduced in this film. Lorenzo di Bonaventura said the studio proposed filming two sequels simultaneously, but he and Bay concurred that was not the right direction for the series.
Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman originally passed on the sequel because of a busy schedule. The studio began courting other writers in May 2007, but as they were unimpressed with their pitches, they convinced Orci and Kurtzman to return. The studio also signed on Ehren Kruger, as he impressed Bay and Hasbro president Brian Goldner with his knowledge of the Transformers mythology, and because he was friends with Orci and Kurtzman. The writing trio were paid $8 million. Screenwriting was interrupted by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, but to avoid production delays the writers spent two weeks writing a treatment, which they handed in the night before the strike began, and Bay expanded the outline into a sixty-page scriptment, fleshing out the action, adding more jokes, as well as selecting the majority of new characters. The three writers spent four months finishing the screenplay while "locked" in two hotel rooms by Bay: Kruger wrote in his own room and the trio would check on each other's work twice a day.
Orci described the film's theme as "being away from home", with the Autobots contemplating living on Earth as they cannot restore Cybertron, while Sam goes to college. He wanted the focus between the robots and humans "much more evenly balanced", "the stakes [to] be higher", and the science fiction elements more prominent. Lorenzo di Bonaventura said that in total, there are around forty robots in the film, while ILM's Scott Farrar has said there are actually sixty. Orci added that he wanted to "modulate" the humor more, and felt he managed the more "outrageous" jokes by balancing them with a more serious plot approach to the Transformers' mythology. Bay concurred that he wanted to please fans by making the tone darker, and that "moms will think its safe enough to bring the kids back out to the movies" despite his trademark sense of humor.
Before Transformers was released, producer DeSanto had "a very cool idea" to introduce the Dinobots, while Bay was interested in an aircraft carrier, which was dropped from the 2007 film. Orci claimed they did not incorporate these characters into Revenge of the Fallen because they could not think of a way to justify the Dinobots' choice of form, and were unable to fit in the aircraft carrier. Orci also admitted he was also dismissive of the Dinobots because he does not like dinosaurs. "I recognize I am weird in that department", he said, but he became fonder of them during filming because of their popularity with fans. He added "I couldn't see why a Transformer would feel the need to disguise himself in front of a bunch of lizards. Movie-wise, I mean. Once the general audience is fully on board with the whole thing, maybe Dinobots in the future." However, Michael Bay said he hated the Dinobots and they had never been in consideration for being featured in the movies.
For the third film, as a preemptive measure before the release of Revenge of the Fallen, Michael Lucchi and Paramount announced on March 16, 2009, that a third film would be released in IMAX 3D on July 1, 2011, which earned a surprised response from director Bay:
I said I was taking off a year from Transformers. Paramount made a mistake in dating Transformers 3—they asked me on the phone—I said yes to July 1—but for 2012—whoops! Not 2011! That would mean I would have to start prep in September. No way. My brain needs a break from fighting robots.
Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who had worked on the two previous Transformers films, declined to return for the third film, with Kurtzman declaring that "the franchise is so wonderful that it deserves to be fresh, all the time. We just felt like we’d given it a lot and didn’t have an insight for where to go with it next". Revenge of the Fallen's co-writer Ehren Kruger became the sole screenwriter for Dark of the Moon. Kruger had frequent meetings with Industrial Light & Magic's (ILM) visual effects producers, who suggested plot points such as the scenes in Chernobyl.
On October 1, 2009, Bay revealed that Dark of the Moon had already gone into pre-production, and its planned release was back to its originally intended date of July 1, 2011, rather than 2012. Due to the revived interest in 3-D technology brought in by the success of Avatar, talks between Paramount, ILM, and Bay had considered the possibility of the next Transformers film being filmed in 3-D, and testing was performed to bring the technology into Bay's work. Bay originally was not much interested in the format as he felt it did not fit his "aggressive style" of filmmaking, but he was convinced after talks with Avatar director James Cameron, who even offered the technical crew from that film. Cameron reportedly told Bay about 3-D, "You gotta look at it as a toy, it's another fun tool to help get emotion and character and create an experience." Bay was reluctant to film with 3-D cameras since in test he found them to be too cumbersome for his filming style, but he did not want to implement the technology in post production either since he was not pleased with the results. In addition to using the 3-D Fusion camera rigs developed by Cameron's team, Bay and the team spent nine months developing a more portable 3-D camera that could be brought into location.
In a hidden extra for the Blu-ray release of Revenge of the Fallen, Bay expressed his intention to make Transformers 3 not necessarily larger than Revenge of the Fallen, but instead deeper into the mythology, to give it more character development, and to make it darker and more emotional. Unicron is briefly shown in a secret Transformers 3 preview feature in the Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray disc. Ultimately, the producers decided to forgo a plot involving the planet-eating Transformer, and no further comments were ever made on the subject. Having been called Transformers 3 up to that point, the film's final title was revealed to be Dark of the Moon in October 2010. After Revenge of the Fallen was almost universally panned by critics, Bay acknowledged the general flaws of the script, having blamed the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike prior to the film for many problems. Bay promised to not have the "dorky comedy" from the last film. On March 19, 2010, the script was said to be finished.
In February 2012, producer di Bonaventura stated that a fourth film was in the works, aiming for a 2014 release, with Michael Bay to direct and produce. On the same day, Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay announced a June 27, 2014 release date for a fourth film. Ehren Kruger would pen the script and Steve Jablonsky would score the film, as each had for the previous film. The film is set five years after the events in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Shia LaBeouf did not return in any future installments. Mark Wahlberg was instead cast in the lead role. In November 2012, casting began to search for two more leads. Isabelle Cornish, Nicola Peltz, Gabriella Wilde and Margaret Qualley were all considered to play the daughter of Mark Wahlberg's character, while Luke Grimes, Landon Liboiron, Brenton Thwaites, Jack Reynor and Hunter Parrish were all considered to play the race-car-driving boyfriend. Bay announced on his website that Reynor would be the boyfriend and that the fourth film would start the next installment in the overall series; the film was to be a darker sequel to Dark of the Moon and have a different feeling. Peter Cullen, who voiced Optimus Prime in the films, was to reprise his role. Tyrese Gibson was in talks to reprise his role. Glenn Morshower stated that he was contracted for two films and he was to reprise his role, but it was later confirmed that Morshower would not be returning. With a budget of $165 million, filming was expected to take place in London between April and November 2013 – once Pain & Gain, another film that Bay was directing, had finished editing.
On January 8, 2013, it was announced that Reynor was joining Wahlberg in the lead. On March 20, 2013, the film's plot read: "As humanity picks up the pieces, following the conclusion of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Autobots and Decepticons have all but vanished from the face of the planet. However, a group of powerful, ingenious businessman and scientists attempt to learn from past Transformer incursions and push the boundaries of technology beyond what they can control – all while an ancient, powerful Transformer menace sets Earth in his crosshairs. The epic adventure and battle between good and evil, freedom and enslavement ensues." But this plot summary was later found to be inaccurate.
On March 26, 2013, Nicola Peltz was cast as the female lead. Bay confirmed that the movie was to be in 3D. Bay revealed to Collider that actor Stanley Tucci had joined the cast, and that the film would be the first feature film to be shot using smaller digital IMAX 3D cameras. On May 1, 2013, actor Kelsey Grammer was cast as the lead human villain named "Harold Attinger". On May 6, 2013, actress Sophia Myles was cast in a major supporting role. That same month, Chinese actress Li Bingbing and comedian T. J. Miller joined the cast.
Actor T. J. Miller would be playing the best friend of Wahlberg's character who is a mechanic. Also revealed were two Autobots who would have the following alternate modes — a black-and-blue 2013 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse named "Drift", and a green 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray concept named Crosshairs. A truck from Western Star Trucks would be Optimus Prime's new alternate mode for the movie. Bumblebee's new alternate mode was revealed to be a modified vintage 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, which later transforms into a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro concept. A green military vehicle (later confirmed to be Hound) and a white emergency response vehicle were also revealed.
Filming began in June 2013, in Detroit, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong.
This is a continuation on the film series as the sequel to Transformers: Age of Extinction. It starts with Optimus Prime lost in space. In his search for his one true maker, Cade Yeager on Earth has gone into exile with the remaining Autobots on Earth, due to always being pursued by the Decepticons. Prime crash lands on Cybertron and comes back to himself again. Prime is in despair and lost after seeing his home in total ruins. After that the movie focus on a homeless child named Izabella. She saves her new "buddies" from being caught from the Transformers Reaction Force. Yeager picks up Izabella and is being accompanied by Bumblebee the known Autobot scout. Optimus on Cybertron is facing his creator Quintessa, as he was captured and tortured by her. After that incident with Prime, he was turned into Nemesis Prime to fetch the wand from the twelve knights. The Transformers Reaction Force sees no other conclusion on this chaos, except from collaborating with none other than Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons.
Future and shared universe
On March 28, 2013, during the release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, producer di Bonaventura announced that he is open to doing a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover. On July 26, 2013, G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu stated that he is also interested in directing a Transformers/G.I. Joe crossover film. Despite di Bonaventura having stated on June 23, 2014, that a crossover was not likely to happen, he later stated that a crossover was still a possibility.
In March 2015, Akiva Goldsman was tasked to create a "Transformers Cinematic Universe", as to oversee the development of a multi-part sequel, along with prequels and spin-off films in a "writer’s room" style brain trust. In May 2015, Deadline reported that Robert Kirkman, Zak Penn, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, Jeff Pinkner, Andrew Barrer, Gabrial Ferrari, Christina Hodson, Lindsey Beer, Ken Nolan, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and Steven DeKnight are to write spin-offs, potentially titled Beast Wars and Transformers One, and sequels for the franchise. At least 12 films are to be pitched for the "Transformers Cinematic Universe". On September 17, 2015, Deadline reported that Barrer and Ferrari are to write an animated film that will explore the origins in Cybertron, with a working title Transformers One.
On October 23, 2015, Jon M. Chu confirmed his intentions to make a crossover film between Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Jem. On October 29, 2015, Chu hinted about Transformers possibly doing crossovers with other Hasbro products.