It’s finally come! The news that Transformers fans have been waiting for for a long time.
Hasbro has officially confirmed that Bumblebee will serve as a reboot for the Transformers franchise!
A lot of fans soured on the franchise after Age of Extinction, and it really showed with regards to the box office earnings of The Last Knight.
Age of Extinction was a massive box office success making $1.1 billion worldwide, but the reviews were awful. The film currently stands at an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes, but the more concerning number is the 51% audience score. Audiences were starting to tire of Michael Bay’s willingness to sacrifice story and character development for mindless explosions, cheesy dialogue, and pointless close-up shots of pretty women.
The difference between the box-office takings from Age of Extinction, which was still in audiences good graces pre-release due to the first three Shia LaBeouf-led films, and The Last Knight was astounding. The Last Knight “only” managed to bring in $605 million–a difference of $500 million between the two films. Not only did Knight make significantly less than its predecessor and is the second lowest-grossing entry in the franchise; it’s also the worst received among critics and audiences alike boasting a 15% critic score and 44% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
People were ready to write the franchise off as dead, but then came Bumblebee.
This was a spin-off about a fan favorite member of the Autobots directed by not Michael Bay (Travis Knight) and made on a significantly lower budget. When it was announced that Bumblebee would be a prequel, a lot of fans theorized (and prayed) that it would be a hard reboot of the franchise.
While no confirmation came before its release, the film itself was fantastic and such a pleasant surprise for fans.
Boasting a 93% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, Bumblebee is by far the best reviewed film in the franchise. Even better though, the film also holds a 78% audience score (2nd highest in the franchise)! Audiences seemed to really take to the smaller scale of the film as it allowed the film to feel more personal. Bumblebee showed fans that it is possible to make a Transformers film that perfectly balances story and character development with high-stakes giant robot action.
While the film is currently the lowest grossing entry in the franchise, at the time of this writing, it has made $458 million worldwide (on a $130 million budget). Notwithstanding, the quality of the film, positive audience, and critic reception has fans optimistic for the future of the franchise. This is why it’s such great news that Hasbro has officially confirmed Bumblebee to be a true reboot of the franchise because now the franchise has a clean slate with a critically acclaimed film as its foundation.
No doubt the director change played a huge part in the reception of Bumblebee. “Bayhem” fatigue had officially set in and it was painfully obvious this franchise needed a change. Travis Knight came in and breathed new life into this franchise with his character-focused and story-driven film, allowing audiences to connect with the characters and care about their story. The giant robot action was still there, but it wasn’t forced into the story for kicks. While there is slightly less action compared to previous films in the franchise, it was a necessary sacrifice to enhance the story telling.
A common complaint among fans was that the ‘Bayhem’ films were too focused on the human characters and relegated Transformers to supporting players.
Not in Bumblebee.
This was Bee’s story from beginning to end. The human characters were largely supporting players, with the exception of the relationship between Bee and Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) playing a big part in the film. Knight did a fantastic job of making sure that, despite all of the characters involved, the audience never felt like Bee wasn’t the main character.
With Bumblebee, it appears that Paramount has heard the fans’ concerns and used the spin-off film as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and show audiences there is still life in this franchise and these characters.
If they can keep bringing in talented directors like Knight to helm their future entries, keep focusing on story and substance while balancing the robot action, and continue telling more “Transformer-centered” stories, this franchise might yet live on. Bumblebee was an enormous step in the right direction, but the franchise needs to prove it can be consistent before it will fully earn the audiences trust back.