Though live-action feature films around the world have been shut down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, animation is going strong, and it's about to transform. Paramount Pictures and Hasbro have tapped Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley, who earlier this year won the Best Animated Film Oscar for the sequel, to direct an animated Transformers prequel movie. Though the film is described as a "prequel" it will be separate from the live-action movies the studio also produces. Deadline reports that the film has "more or less begun production" thanks to work being done remotely, an advantage it has over the live-action side of the franchise.
Screenwriters Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari, who previously worked on Ant-Man and The Wasp for Marvel Studios, penned the script for the film, having previously been involved in the "writer's room" that Paramount set-up as a means of exploring the Transformers franchise. The animated film will take place on the Transformer home world Cybertron, presumably surrounding the war between the Autobots and Decepticons.
It was previously reported that Paramount had two films in the franchise in development, one that would follow-up the Hailee Steinfeld-starring Bumblebee and one that would be a reboot, with a later report suggesting it was based on the Beast Wars wing of the franchise. It's unclear at this point if the Cybertron film, itself long in-development as well, is one of those two projects or if Paramount is still making plans for those films as live-action feature films. Should that be the case, it makes sense why they'd move as quickly as they have on the new animated movie since it can actually go into production as this stage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cooley has an extensive background in animation, working at Disney's Pixar for many years including as a storyboard artist on Cars, Cars 2, Up, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles. Toy Story 4 marked his feature film debut as a director, giving him a high bar as a filmmaker when the film grossed over a billion dollars, became the highest grossing in the series, and netted him an Academy Award.
The Transformers series has been in a bit of a bind since their most recent movie, the Bumblebee spin-off, debuted. Despite earning a franchise low $465.2 million worldwide at the box office, the film very clearly earned the favor of critics around the globe and earned the highest reviews of the series.
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