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The Transformers franchise is transforming into something beastly. The seventh installment will be titled Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Paramount revealed during a virtual press event Tuesday to celebrate the beginning of production.
That name will be evocative to fans of the 1990s cartoon Beast Wars, which centered on a group of robots that took animal form. Filmmaker Steven Caple Jr. was among the generation who grew up loving Beast Wars.
“There are different breeds of Transformers,” said Caple, who last directed Creed II. “In our particular film, they are prehistoric animals who travel through time and space, and we find them here on Earth.”
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will partially be set in Brooklyn, New York, and will also go to Peru, among other locations.
“I don’t think a film at this size has been there,” said Caple of filming in Peru.
As for the ’90s setting, Caple has been playing ’90s hip-hop on set to get the right feel going.
“You are going to feel hip-hop culture,” said Caple. “You are going to feel Brooklyn.”
Caple revealed that Optimus Prime will be the film’s protagonist and that the fan-favorite character will appear in his G1 form — that is, his look from the classic 1980s toy line. He once again will be voiced by Peter Cullen. The Transformers team declined to comment on further voice castings, but promised some interesting news to come.
Meanwhile, Scourge will be the villain. He’s quite formidable, fusing parts of slain Transformers onto his own body.
“He loves to collect Autobots and Maximals and use them as his trophy,” said Caple, referring to the good Transformers in the film.
Another potential breakout character will be Optimus Primal, the gorilla leader of the Maximals and a confidant of Optimus Prime.
“It makes [Optimus] Prime have a character he can have a philosophical conversation on the same plane,” said di Bonaventura. “There’s a lot of commonalities they are dealing with, but there is a different perspective they are dealing with.”
Di Bonaventura promised in addition to the heroic Maximals and the villainous Predacons known to Beast Wars fans, there will be Autobots and Decepticons never before seen on the big screen.
“We had somewhat exhausted the battle between the Decepticons and the Autobots,” said the producer, referring to the group of warring robots seen in previous films. “How do we find a new set of villains and a new set of priorities?”
Michael Bay directed five Transformers films from 2007-17, with Travis Knight helming the 2018, 1980s-set prequel Bumblebee. The franchise has grossed $4.8 billion globally. Caple was chosen to pick up the mantle because the team was looking for someone who could tackle “heart and humor,” said di Bonaventura.
“We want to deliver a film that has the scale and spectacle of the Bay films with the heart and humor we were able to achieve in Bumblebee, and Shia’s [LaBeouf] relationship with Bumblebee [in the Bay films],” said di Bonaventura.
In the Heights star Anthony Ramos and Project Power‘s Dominique Fishback lead the new Transformers movie as the human characters. Ramos grew up loving Beast Wars, and plays Noah, a military veteran and electronics wiz.
“The one thing I love about Noah is his tenacity and his heart and his will to never quit in spite of all the crazy things life is throwing at him,” said Ramos. “It’s amazing to see his journey when we then venture out into the world when the humans meet bots and things start to happen and shit gets real.”
Fishback did not grow up a Transformers fan, but did grow up on Even Stevens, the Disney comedy series starring LaBeouf, and so she watched with interest as the actor went on to headline Transformers.
Fishback described her character as “an intelligent artifact researcher.”
“She works at the museum and she’s trying to get a leg up in life, but her boss keeps taking credit for the work that she’s done,” said Fishback.
eOne, the Hasbro-owned entertainment studio, is behind the new Transformers with longtime franchise studio Paramount. The film comes as the studio seeks to build out its Transformers universe, with Charm City filmmaker Angel Manuel Soto also developing a Transformers project.
Caple acknowledged that as a fan of the franchise, he has jitters about doing it justice. But, he believes he’s on the right track with the film, which is due out June 24, 2022.
Said the filmmaker: “I’m looking at pre-visuals and concept art and I’m just like, ‘Fans are going to go crazy over this because I’m going crazy as I’m creating it.'”
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