While the box-office haul of this summer’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts doesn’t compare to the highest highs of the Michael Bay era, it’s still a big enough hit that fans of the robots in disguise should expect another sequel in the future (and one with a toy line crossover twist). In fact, Transformers 8 isn’t even the only TF movie Paramount Pictures has in the works: Announced in April, the studio will release the animated Transformers One in theaters in 2024. Longtime Transformers movie series producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura tells Polygon says the movie is big — maybe the biggest Transformers story his team has brought to screen yet.
“You could not make this movie live-action,” he says, while on the press tour for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’ digital release. “If we did it in live-action it would cost twice what we normally would spend on a big Transformers movie. In animation, not only can we afford it, it’s less than a Transformers movie. We can do things in animation... I mean, imagine being on Cybertron? What does Cybertron really look like? We get the opportunity to define that.”
Transformers One winds back the clock on the war between Autobots and Decepticons and shakes up the casting: Chris Hemsworth has been cast as the voice of a young Optimus Prime, replacing series stalwart Peter Cullen, while recent Atlanta star and Oscar nominee Bryan Tyree Henry subs in for Frank Welker as voice Megatron. Rounding out the cast are Scarlett Johansson as Elita One, Keegan-Michael Key as Bumblebee, Jon Hamm as Sentinel Prime, and Laurence Fishburne as Alpha Trion. And, yes, it’s all set on Cybertron.
Transformers One marks the first fully animated feature film from the artists at Industrial Light & Magic since 2011’s Rango (though the company also worked on George Lucas’ fairytale curio Strange Magic, but uh let’s uh focus on Rango). Di Bonaventura, who rightfully heralds Rango as “quite spectacular” in this writer’s opinion, says that films like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse and Paramount’s upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem may have opened the door for a fully animated Transformers movie, but the only stylistic throughline is that on Transformers One, ILM, director Josh Cooley (Toy Story 4), and the entire team is “doing our own version of originality.” But in service of what?
“I’ve always wanted to do the origin story of essentially the friendship of Megatron and Optimus, who were then Orion Pax and D-16,” di Bonaventura says with authentic giddiness. “There’s something very biblical about it, very Cain and Abel, in many respects. But it’s more sophisticated in a way because it’s about power and the use of power and how an individual is personally.”
Transformers One is currently slated to hit theaters on July 19, 2024.