With Transformers: Dark Of The Moon a huge box office hit (it was the most profitable entry in the robo-franchise), a fourth movie was all-but guaranteed.
One person who wouldn't be returning for another skirmish with devilish Decepticons, though, was Shia LaBeouf, who announced to MTV in June 2011 that he was done with the robots in disguise.
"I’m not coming back to do another one," he said. "I don’t think [ Michael Bay ] will either. It still is a hot property, I think, especially coming out of the third one. So I imagine they’ll reboot it at some point with someone else."
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A potential new cinematic era was dawning for the Transformers, but with Michael Bay keen to move on to, well, if not bigger then definitely DIFFERENT things, who to take on a potential Transformers 4 ?
Franchise regular Tyrese Gibson had an idea, singling out producer Steven Spielberg was somebody who could (or SHOULD) take up the lens.
"Here is the safety net," he told Movieweb. "Are you ready for this? Michael Bay decides to not come back for Transformers 4 . There is always Steven Spielberg! I am not saying that Steven Spielberg is for a fact going to direct Transformers 4 . But it is a beautiful safety net to know that one of the biggest, most respected directors in the world happens to be an executive producer on Transformers."
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One person keen on Transformers 4 becoming a reality? Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner, whom The Hollywood Reporter discovered in October 2011 was in talks with Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg about making that fourth film a reality.
"We continue to actively develop a number of additional Hasbro films with great partners and writers, including Micronauts, Ouija, Candyland, Risk, Stretch Armstrong, Clue and Monopoly," he said. Sounded like T4 was a top priority, though…
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So Goldner wanted a Transformers 4. How about a Transformers 5 ? Variety reported in October 2011 that a fourth and fifth film were very much on the cards, and could potentially shoot back-to-back in the same way that the Matrix and Back To The Future sequels did.
According to Variety , Transformers screenwriter Ehren Kruger had ideas for both sequels and was actively looking for writers. Meanwhile, Jason Statham's name was doing the rounds as a potential new star…
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Bay Says No
Even if T4 and T5 looked likely, Michael Bay was adamant that he wouldn't be calling the shots on the carnage again. Taking to his site, Shoot For The Edit, he addressed the rumours of his involvement directly:
"I am currently not talking to Paramount on T4 and T5 despite reports. I’m looking at a lot of possibilities coming my way right now weighing options. Most likely going to be doing the low budget Pain & Gain , a true story crime thriller. It’s a very quick shoot and quite funny. Also just finishing the 3 disc set of the Transformer trilogy."
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Somebody else going to bat against rumours was Jason Statham, who spoke to MTV about gossip that he was about to get in on the Transformers biz.
“You know, I don’t know how those things start," he said. "You read them. Someone told me about it. [But] the internet is a dangerous place. There’s a lot of stuff out there.
“I’ve got a lot of stuff in front of me, but Michael Bay is a talented man. This last one just made a billion dollars around the world, so people like his films. He’s a talented man.”
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The Beard Wants Bay
After months of silence, December 2011 dawned with Entertainment Weekly cornering Steven Spielberg on the state of T4 . His thoughts? Well, he wanted Bay back…
"I hope [ he comes back ], because I think he made the best of the three with this last one. I certainly can’t imagine anybody other than Michael being equipped to make another Transformers . He’s invented a genre and he’s got the secret formula."
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By February 2012, Spielberg had his wish granted when Michael Bay officially signed on to direct Transformers 4.
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura confirmed the news, also revealing a proposed release slot for the flick. "Michael’s going to direct it and it’ll be in the summer of 2014," he told MTV. "We’ll be releasing it [ then ]… I think the challenge there is we really are going to do a reboot there, and what that’s going to be we don’t even know yet."
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So Transformers 4 was officially on the move with Bay behind the camera, but it was looking increasingly likely that Bay would be the only holdover from the previous movies.
Talking with E! Online , Josh Duhamel confirmed that none of the actors from the first three films would return.
"I don’t think anybody’s doing it," he said. "I know Shia's not doing it. I don’t think Tyrese or Rosie [Huntington-Whiteley] or anybody else is doing it… Whenever these movies make that much money they’re going to make as many as they can. [ But ] I haven’t heard anything about it."
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Bay Goes Out With A Bang
Though Bay had said that T3 would be his final Transformers film before signing onto T4 , he told the LA Times in June 2012 that T4 really would be his last robo-flick.
The Times reported: The director, by the way, says that the fourth film will include some redesign of the robots and an entirely new cast. He also said it will be his last and set the franchise up “for the next guy”.
So could a new trilogy be on the way?
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Transformers In Space?
While out promoting the new Transformers ride at Universal Studios, Bay chatted with The LA Times about his fourth Transformers movie, revealing that it's "not a reboot" and would take the franchise in "a new direction".
He added that the film would be made for $30m less than its predecessor (which had a budget of $195m), while the plot could venture out into space.
"I think so, yeah, a little," he mused. "That feels like the way to go, doesn’t it? I want to go a little off but I don’t want to go too sci-fi. I still want to keep it grounded. That’s what works in these movies, that’s what makes it accessible."
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Transformers equals toys, right? That's certainly the angle Hasbro come at the movies from (well, it IS a toy company), and with Transformers 4 in the pipeline, the company was keen to introduce new 'bots to the movies.
CEO Brian Goldner kept his cards close to his chest, though, neither confirming whether or not Optimus Prime would be ditched, nor if the new movie 'bots would be entirely new characters or drawn from the already-existing toy characters.
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"I thought I was done," Bay told The Huffington Post in September 2012, adding that he wanted to return to do a final Transformers movie so that somebody else wouldn't come in and "screw it up".
He also revealed he's addicted to the franchise: "When you look what’s going on in the film business with the franchise frenzy right now, why is Cameron doing two more Avatar movies? Why is Peter Jackson doing three more Hobbit movies that are in the same world as Lord Of The Rings ? When you have a franchise, it’s very hard to give it up.”
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In October 2012, a casting call for the fourth Transformers flick went out, and it seemed to hint that the film would have a female protagonist.
SpoilerTV discovered the notice, reporting: 'The new female lead that they are looking for is a high school senior and her boyfriend a Texas racing driver.'
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Having smashed Chicago to pieces in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon , rumours began circulating that Bay was keen on setting T4 in London.
The Transformers Live Action Movie Blog discovered a casting notice on Mandy.com's UK section, which described a Paramount project that was due to shoot in the English capital. Could it be T4 ? If so, it would be the first time that a Transformers flick came to the UK.
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With casting on T4 well under way, Twitchfilm.com got wind that Mark Wahlberg was in "early conversations" with Bay to play the lead character in the fourquel.
Bay quickly took to his website to shut the rumour down: "The Mark Wahlberg T4 rumor is just a rumor. Mark and I are talking about another film project. - Michael"
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Ignore Bay - in November 2012, Paramount Pictures confirmed that Wahlberg would definitely be the lead in the fourth Transformers 4 .
Citing the duo's "exceptionally successful collaboration" on Pain & Gain as a deciding factor, the studio confirmed Wahlberg would head up the film when it hit cinemas in the US on 27 June 2014.
Bay took to his site again to confirm that internet rumours about Wahlberg's involvement were partly responsible for the actor's casting: "I had such a great time working with Mark on Pain & Gain , and he gave such a great performance – well let’s say that very internet chatter gave me some ideas.
"We are at the inception of our story process right now on T4 . Let’s say some ideas are gaining traction with me and my writer – so I’m here to say thanks internet chatter."
On top of that, Paramount released the official logo for the film.
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With Wahlberg confirmed as his lead, Bay talked up how T4 would fit into the Transformers timeline.
Gabbing with TMZ , he revealed that T4 would be set "four years from the Attack on Chicago… So it’s going to still have the same lineage.
"And it’s going a full new direction and feels very natural how it’s going in that direction, there is no way you’re going to ever find out what the story because you don’t have to dig through my trash but I shredded my trash…Pentagon level encryption on our computers. So good luck to ya!"
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Despite early chatter that T4 could shoot in London, Vulture learned that the fourquel could actually be set in and shot around China.
Why? Revenue. Setting the film in China would all but guarantee a wide release in the country, which could do wonders for the film's box office returns. “By getting Chinese culture into it, there’s a better chance of getting it into China,” Vulture's insider said, “and less chance of getting frozen out.”
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With Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whitely out, Transformers 4 landed a new set of hot young stars in December 2012, with the casting of Brenton Thwaites and Nicola Peltz.
The latter landed the role of Mark Wahlberg's daughter, while Thwaites would play her boyfriend. The duo reportedly beat competition from Isabelle Cornish, Gabrielle Wilde and Luke Grimes.
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With all the cogs and wheels starting to fall into place, Wahlberg confirmed that Transformers 4 would start shooting in May 2013.
Talking to I Am Rogue , he added: "I had a great experience working with Michael. We really hit it off. We complement each other so well on set and we took something that was really good and I think we made something special with Pain & Gain.
"He said to me [ on se t], ‘What do you think about doing a Transformers movie with me?’ I said, ‘Well, what do you want me to do?' He told me and I said, ‘Absolutely!’ I think it will be the most challenging role that I’ve played."
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Enter Jack Reynor
A month after Brenton Thwaite was cast as a ballsy biker in T4 , Michael Bay revealed that he'd been replaced by Irish actor Jack Reynor.
"I just hired a great new actor for Transformers 4 to star against Mark Wahlberg," he said in an official statement. "Jack Reynor, he is an Irish kid that came to America with 30 bucks in his pocket. Pretty ballsy. Seriously who does that? Anyway I spotted him in a great little Irish movie WHAT RICHARD DID. This kid is the real deal."
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Attending the London Critics Circle Awards, Jack Reynor talked about his casting in the film, revealing that he was put through "quite a rigorous audition process".
He also discussed his character, revealing: "I’m training very intensely at the moment. I’m going to keep that up until we shoot. I’m going to do some different courses, some different things I need to pick up for the film. My character seems to be a race car driver so I’m going to be doing a couple of driving courses and getting out on the track."
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Though Bay's insisted that Transformers 4 isn't a reboot, Mark Wahlberg seemed to have other ideas in February 2013, calling the film "a total reboot" before adding that they've "redesigned everything from top to bottom".
Bay also waded in on the subject of modifications, telling Forbes : "We keep the Transformers the way they were, it’s just four years later. There’s a reason the Transformers are redesigned. We’re trying to broaden the franchise and give it more places to go."
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Dark & Gritty
The Transformers are better known as popcorn entertainment than gritty thrillers, but according to Wahlberg in March 2013, T4 would take the franchise into darker territory.
We asked him if the new film would take a grittier approach, to which the actor replied: “Yeah…I don’t want to get fired before I get started, but you’re on the right track!”
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Chicago It Is
With Paramount reportedly settling on Chicago as the setting for T4 (despite rumours of both London and China), a plot description for the film leaked online. Though Paramount quickly denied its accuracy, here's what it said:
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.
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IMAX and 3D
In March 2013, / Film discovered that T4 would shoot in 3D. Just a few weeks later, Michael Bay attended CinemaCon and confirmed that he'd also be using IMAX camera on the fourquel.
He added that T4 would be the first film to use the new 3D IMAX camera - though whether he'd continue to shoot on 65mm (as he did on Dark Of The Moon ) or make the switch to digital remained to be seen.
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Tucci In The House
Also announced at CinemaCon - Stanley Tucci had signed on to add a little class to Transformers 4. Though his character remained a mystery, his addition to the cast was welcomed - not least because his popularity was on a Hunger Games -powered upswing.
Meanwhile, with T4 set to shoot partly in China, a Chinese reality show was launched called Transformers 4 Chinese Actor Talent Search, which held an open call for Chinese actors to fight for a role in the film.
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Michael Bay admitted that he'd offered Mark Wahlberg the lead in Transformers 4 after enjoying working with him on Pain & Gain , but apparently he also offered a role to The Rock, too.
Participating in a Q&A on Twitter in April 2013, The Rock revealed: "Michael Bay offered me Transformers , but I was unavailable due to Hercules. Then Wahlberg was offered the role."
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Having revealed that T4 would have a smaller budget than its mammoth predecessor, Bay also revealed that the running time on the fourquel would be shorter.
He said that the film should clock in at around 127 minutes - a whole 30 minutes shorter than Dark Of The Moon.
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After Wahlberg revealed that T4 would redesign the franchise, Bay talked more about how the film will give the series a bit of a design shake-up…
"You know there are a couple of historians of Transformers . I would do my designs of the robots and they’re like, 'What if you just add a little bit more ears to Optimus?' But they’re really hands off," he said.
"We’ve redesigned them in Transformers 4, and there’s some really cool shit in it. I’m literally redesigning every character, top to bottom. There’s a reason why they’re redesigned, but it’s also to keep it new and fresh to me. I think the fans will appreciate some of this new stuff we have in the movie and some of the new characters."
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Oh Hello, Grammer
With Transformers 4 ushering a whole new cast in, it seemed Bay was wasting no time approaching a variety of fantastic actors to add to the franchise.
The latest addition, announced in May 2013, was Kelsey Grammer. Deadline reported that the former Frasier star would play T4 's non-robot villain, a "counter-intelligence guy" called Harold Attinger.
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Huge spoilers followed the announcement of Grammer's involvement in T4 , with JoBlo discovering a breakdown of the fourquel's new robo-stars.
The site's sources claimed that the film would introduce the Dinobots - YES, DINOBOTS - and offered a rundown of just which Transformers would appear in the film. Obviously, big spoilers below…
"One of the villains of the film will be a character named Lockdown, who has a ship full of decommissioned Transformers, including the dinobots, which are somehow brought back to life by a captured Optimus Prime. Prime is joined by returning autobot Bumblebee and at one point both characters (and potentially others) will “ride” the Dinobots into battle in Hong Kong (which fits well within the announcement that the film would film partially in China), with Prime on Grimlock and Bumblebee on a Pterandon, presumably Swoop."
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Alongside the announcement that comedian TJ Miller had been cast as Wahlberg's best friend in T4 , Bay revealed the first two Autobots that would be in the film.
Sort of. With filming taking place in Arizona, Bay posted up pics of a 1200-horsepower Bugatti Grand Sport Vitesse and a C7 Corvette Stingray. While the characters these cars would eventually become remained a mystery, there's no denying they were slick…
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As well as the reveal of the Vitesse and Corvette, the new look for Optimus Prime's truck was unveiled in May 2013.
Bay also announced the official start of principal photography: "Principal photography on Transformers 4 has begun. As guests of the Navajo Nation, we took a convoy of brand new, re-envisioned and remodeled Autobots out for a spin down Highway 163 in Monument Valley near the border. Stay tuned…more to come!"
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Want more sneak peeks at the new-look Transformers in T4 ? Bay continued to unveil the slick new chassis of his Autobots with a shot of Bumblebee.
Yep, he's now a retro Camaro. Not bad if you ask us…
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With shooting well underway on Bay's fourth Transformers movie, rumours surfaced that the film would be called Transformers: Rise Of Galvatro n. As ever, Bay reacted quickly to the chit-chat…
“I wanted you to hear from me directly that we have not yet chosen a title and anything being reported is absolutely not true,” he wrote on his website. “When we have a title to announce, I promise you will hear it from me first.”
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After offering glimpses at the redesigned Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, Bay revealed yet another vehicle while shooting, this one a freightliner truck.
The caption for the image read: "The adventure continues to transform with a very different offering from Daimler Trucks North America . . . the imposing 2014 Argosy cab-over truck by Freightliner."
So was this Motormaster? Or Ultra Magnus? Either way, it looks awesome…
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By August 2013, filming on the fourquel had moved to Detroit, which had been dressed to resemble a Chinese town. On-set videos caught the detonation of some explosions that hint this corner of China is going to come under attack from Decepticons…
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Michael Bay continued to tease Transformer fans with a first official shot from the set of the fourth film in August 2013.
Showing off an impressive set construction, alongside stars Mark Wahlberg and Jack Reynor - plus Bay striking an action-movie pose - it was a tantalising glimpse at the film, even though it gave nothing away.
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While talking with Beijing News, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura let slip that the Dinobots will definitely be making their big-screen debut in T4 - and yes, we should be very, very excited.
"I can not disclose the specifics, but you can be sure that the arrival of the Dinobots will give the audience a lot to be excited about," he said.
Di Bonaventura added: "The world’s coolest, most exciting cars will appear in the film, including Chinese vehicles, so whether you are a car enthusiast or not, it will be a feast for the eyes."
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On the same day that di Bonaventura confirmed the presence of the Dinobots in T4 , a sandy teaser poster was revealed for the film - alongside its official title.
The official title? Transformers: Age Of Extinction.
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“He’s a no-nonsense guy” is how Kelsey Grammer described his villain character to MovieWeb .
While an on-set video surfaced online showing Grammer at the centre of a screaming horde (that had surely just spotted a Decepticon), Grammer added: “He’s lived his life in the shadows for 30 years in the service of his country, and he likes to be unremarkable yet very efficient.”
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On Set Shot
Another day, another tantalising on-set shot from Transformers: Age Of Extinction.
Continuing to tease his fans, Bay posted this dramatic behind-the-scenes pic of a scene from the fourquel onto his website. No doubt carefully selected because it gives away nothing about the film other than it has explosions (well, duh)…
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Finally, at the tail-end of September 2013, Bay posted a shot of his cast in character on the set of Transformers 4.
Featuring Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor, it's sort of moody despite the sun-bleached setting, hinting that this trio is in for something of a rough ride. Ahem.
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In a time when movie sets are becoming increasingly sensitive to online spoilers, we'll grab 'em anywhere we can. And increasingly, spoilers wind up in toy form, with upcoming movie tie-ins revealing details about the film.
In October 2013, Fandango editor Erik Davis tweeted a shot of the Optimus Prime toy from T4 , revealing the character's shiny new look.
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Filming moved to Hong Kong in October 2013, where the first day of shooting was disrupted by a man who reportedly threw an air conditioning unit at director Michael Bay.
Bay shrugged off the skirmish in a statement on his website, posting: "Yes, some drugged up guys were being belligerent asses to my crew for hours in the morning of our first shoot day in Hong Kong.
"One guy rolled metal carts into some of my actors trying to shake us down for thousands of dollars to not play his loud music or hit us with bricks."
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Despite his run-in with an over-zealous local, Bay sang Hong Kong's praises while being interviewed by the South China Morning Post . He called it "a very visual city", while producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura noted: “We met 1,000 people and there were three idiots."
Bay also talked about the reason for shooting in the city, noting that he had no intention of blowing it up. “We are not destroying Hong Kong,” he stated. The Autobots, he explained vaguely, “are not rescuing Hong Kong but definitely rescuing something.”
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If you've ever wondered what it's like being on a Michael Bay set, Entertainment Tonight offered us a sneak peek in November 2013.
The show released a sizzle reel from the set of Transformers: Age Of Extinction , with was crammed with explosive action. Check it out below…
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10 July 2014
With the first trailer for Transformers: Age Of Extinction now out off the way and looking suitably bombastic (see below), the July 2014 release date is crawling slowly towards us. When it lands, T4 should be every bit as spectacular as the previous three films in the franchise - if nothing else, nobody does action like Bay.
“I wanted the first Transformers to be very suburban and less cool,” Bay told Yahoo Movies recently. “This is a much more cinematic one. I focused on keeping this one slick. There won’t be any goofiness in this one. We went a bit too goofy [ on the last one ].”
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