‘Transformers’ Spinoff ‘Bumblebee’ Could Open Door for Optimus Prime Movie

‘80s-set Transformers prequel Bumblebee could pave the way for an Optimus Prime movie, which producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura tells EW is at the top of the list for the universe’s writers’ room.

“I’d certainly like to do that,” di Bonaventura said. “It would be a very different kind of movie than a Bumblebee movie, but equally interesting and different.”

“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the fans that they wanted us to do a deep dive on one or two of the robots, because they wanted to get to know them better,” di Bonaventura said of the decision to shine the spotlight — or headlights — on ‘Bee. “Bumblebee was selected because he’s such a loved figure, and he’s also more emotional than Optimus. Those were the two likely characters.”

Because Optimus is “a stoic leader, and you can count on him,” the Transformers team went with Bumblebee for the first solo because he “is the one who is more emotionally volatile,” the producer said. “He has a lot of ups and downs. So it seemed like the best character to try for the first time zeroing in on one Autobot.”

The kid-friendlier prequel-slash-spinoff is centered around the mostly-mute yellow Autobot, who forms a bond with 17-year-old Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld) after making his way to Earth in 1987.

Bumblebee also came about as response to audience fatigue with the flagship Michael Bay-directed series, with the spinoff already being explored by the Transformers braintrust before audiences had grown less interested in the bombastic franchise.

“We were headed down the Bumblebee path well before the release of the last Transformers,” di Bonaventura said of Transformers: The Last Knight. “We had felt that with the fifth movie, we had sort of run out of room with where to take it.”

An Optimus Prime movie — or a Bumblebee 2 — is dependent on the robot in disguise proving successful.

“If Bee’s successful, we can have a Bee 2, no doubt,” di Bonaventura said. “We have a good sense of where a second movie would go. For me, the greatest thing that came out of the writer’s room was the sense that we could go in any number of directions. It opened up our minds to choices.”

After producing all six Transformers live-action movies so far, di Bonaventura said the key to the series’ lifespan lies in change.

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“We could do a time travel movie. You could take almost any genre and do it,” he said. “You can go back in the past, you can go to the future. So I think we’ve got an abundance of choices. It’s really more about narrowing them down than anything else, and deciding which one we think is the strongest one to go with next.”

Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Kenneth Choi, and John Ortiz, opens December 21.