Transformers: 'Bumblebee' Director Says Steven Spielberg Came Up With Spinoff Idea

Travis Knight directed Bumblebee, the first spinoff of the Michael Bay-helmed Transformers movie franchise. But it isn’t Knight or Bay that fans should be thanking for the new film, but Steven Spielberg.

Knight tells Yahoo that Spielberg is the one came up with the idea for the new movie.

“The original idea for this film actually was Steven [Spielberg’s],” Knight said. “We can thank him for this film even existing.”

Spielberg was one of the most popular directors of the 1980s, the era that Bumblebee is set in. Knight says Spielberg’s ET: The Extra Terrestrial was an influence on his approach to Bumblebee.

“At the heart of it [Bumblebee] is a film about relationships, and this beautiful love story between these two characters,” Knight said.

Bumblebee takes place in 1987, 20 years before the events of the first Transformers movie. Hailee Steinfeld stars as Charlie Watson, a teenage girl who discovers that her yellow Volkswagen Beetle is a giant alien robot. Bumblebee is voice by Dylan O'Brien.

In December, Paramount released the first official synopsis for the prequel film:

“On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.”

Bumblebee isn't the only Transformer to appear in the film. The spinoff also includes the Generation 1 version of Optimus Prime and several Decepticons.

The film also stars John Cena, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Jason Drucker, Kenneth Choi, Ricardo Hoyos, Abby Quinn, and Grace Dzienny.

Knight is best known for Laika animated features Kubo and the Two Strings and Coraline.

Bumblebee is just the first step in Paramount’s plans to expand the Transformers movie franchise. The studio convened a writers’ room to brainstorm ideas for the Transformers cinematic universe. There are rumors that a film called Transformers One is in development. The film would reveal the origins of the Autobots and Decepticons. There are also plans for a crossover with GI Joe and other Hasbro properties.

Production on Bumblebee began in July 2017 in California. The film is the sixth in the Transformers live-action series. It follows 2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight, the final film in the franchise to directed Michael Bay, who has directed every film in the series so far. The future of the core film series is currently unclear. Paramount removed Transformers 6 from its release schedule and has officially put the film on hold.

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Bumblebee opens in theaters on December 21st.