Hailee Steinfeld Debuts First Look at 'Transformers' Spinoff 'Bumblebee'

Director Travis Knight, Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. offered a glimpse at the first Transformers spinoff, Bumblebee, Wednesday at CinemaCon.

Opening Dec. 21, this will be the first film in the franchise that isn’t helmed by Michael Bay. Stepping into the director’s chair is Knight, the Laika stop-motion studio head who made his feature directorial debut with the Oscar-nominated Kubo and the Two StringsBumblebee — which will team the title bot with Steinfeld — is Knight’s first live-action feature as director.

Set in 1987, Bumblebee centers on Charlie (Steinfeld), who is on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world when she discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.

The clip shown at CinemaCon wasn't what many might have expected. A quiet, emotive clip started with Charlie working on her VW car when it transformed into Bumblebee, who was as scared of her as she was of him. They slowly begin to trust each other and communicate. She introduces herself and she names him Bumblebee (since he can't talk).

"It really was an incredible experience," Steinfeld said of the movie. "The relationship with Bee had heart."

"The movie theater is a sacred place ... it inspired me to dream. It's magic," Knight told the crowd at CinemaCon. "When Paramount approached me about Bumblebee it was a dream come true ... I played with Transformers as a kids. At Laika we start with characters and with Bumblebee we go back to characters, emotion — and explosions, lots and lots of explosions, with an emotional core."

Michael Bay’s five Transformers films, the first of which opened in 2007, have collectively grossed $4.38 billion. The third and fourth films in the Paramount franchise each topped $1 billion. But the fifth, Transformers: The Last Knight, which opened last summer, had a sizable box office drop with $605 million worldwide.