This week we have Transformers: The Last Knight. A wasted marketing opportunity might have been to refer to the movie as Transformer5 (now copy-written by yours truly), but the time has long since passed to start calling it that. Marketing materials probably leave out the 5 all together because, 1) the films have never used numbers to label sequels and, 2) this entry more than any other in the franchise is trying the hardest to be seen as a true series relaunch. Before we get deeper into Transformers 5, let’s talk about Transformers: A Brief History.
5 Ways to Prep - Transformers: The Last Knight
By George Rose
June 20, 2017
Early 1980s: Japanese toy makers start selling tons of transformable car action figures. One minute they’re robot men, the next they’re a Maserati.
1984: Transformers becomes a hit cartoon series. Optimus Prime is good. Megatron is bad. The war will continue to rage on for more than three decades and counting.
1986: Transformers: The Movie is released. It is a cartoon, just like the TV show. It bombs, earning less than $6 million. That’s not even $14 million in today’s dollars. The Transformers movies die and get cryogenically frozen for 20 years.
1990s: Little ‘80s nerd children like me are now slightly larger ‘90s pre-teens. The Transformers brand stays alive with toys, TV show cartoons and comic books.
Early 2000s: Small ‘90s pre-teens are now teens and young adults with the internet. Technology advances have made robots cool again. The internet has made talking to friends and spreading word about things of interest much easier. Geeks that used to get made fun of for being nerdy kids that watched shows like Transformers are now the ones programming the technology used to control the internet. A perfect robotic storm is brewing.
Mid-2000s: Despite nerds HATING super-Hollywood-Summer-blockbuster-superstar-jock Michael Bay, action-movie lovers that don’t know nerdy things like Transformers know and trust him. The iconic action director is paired with the legendary Steven Spielberg (as producer) to make a Transformers movie. Bay will bring the action, Spielberg will bring the prestige, and the Transformers will bring the nerds. The internet will do the rest.
2007: Poor nerdy kids of the ‘80s like me are now 22-years-old. We have money, cars, the internet, a fond memory of the Transformers, and a deep love of action movies. Like the rest of the world, we go see the first live-action Transformers movie. Against all odds, the $150 million budgeted film opens to $70 million, earns $319 million domestically, $390 million internationally, and $709 million worldwide. Paramount Pictures and Hasbro Toys have made a wise investment that the world will suffer for supporting over the next decade. This is mostly because stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox will soon prove to be batshit crazy and Bay/Spielberg will chose to waste the goodwill they’ve earned with lame follow-ups.
2009: Sequels released only two years after the prior film are usually too rushed to be any good. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen only helps prove that theory. However, the early 2000s were kind to trilogies, especially the first sequel. Things like the internet and the growing foreign markets helped most first sequels of that time earn more than their predecessors. Transformers 2 opened with $109 million, earned $402 million domestically, $434 million overseas and $836 million worldwide. All four numbers are bigger with the sequel so the studio is happy. The movie sucked so the fans were concerned. We all pray together that we never see another pair of robot testicles again (oh, yeah, they’re in the movie). Everything now rests on Part 3.
2011: Another short two year later, another sequel. This time there is no Megan Fox because she badmouthed Bay after Transformers 2 and nobody likes a pair of whiny tits wandering around the set. The sex symbol is never the main draw of the movie, so she gets replaced with another nobody-really-cares-because-she’s-so-hot actress, and Shia LaBeouf’s mom makes an innuendo that her son must have a big schlong if he keeps landing models. The series has officially gone off the rails. If it wasn’t for the then-growing 3D technology and that amazing action sequence with a giant robot worm tearing through skyscrapers, the movie might have killed the franchise. Instead, it opened smaller with $97 million, earned a still respectable $350 million domestically, a much larger $771 million internationally and $1.1 billion worldwide. The franchise takes a break on a high note while LaBeouf starts to go on crazy rants around Hollywood.
2013: Bay needs a break from blockbuster filmmaking because he wants to be taken more seriously. Hahahahaha, I know, right?! He makes a movie called Pain and Gain (ugh) about muscle men Mark Wahlberg and The Rock and blah blah blah. Nobody cares. Literally. It only earns $86 million worldwide. Hey, Paramount, Bay is on the phone begging to make Trans4mers so let’s jump on that. Also, China is about to explode at the box office and Asians started this whole robot nonsense so they’ll eat this crap up.
2014: Transformers: Age of Extinction is released and sort of reboots the franchise. Bay’s new boy toy Mark Wahlberg is now the star, while LaBeouf ruins his career by being weird. Also, now there are robot dinosaurs, soooooooo yeah. They don’t help much and neither does the dying 3D trend. It opens to $100 million, earns $245 domestically, a crazy $858 million internationally and $1.1 billion worldwide. China saves the day here and the franchise saves face. But, as we now know, each new reason for a burst in earnings is only good for one film. 3D only helped once and China might only save the series once.
2015: Transformers does something you’d never expect a campy, critically-trashed franchise to do; they create a writers-room. The studio hires a bunch of writers to work together to create a cohesive Transformers universe (similar to Marvel and DC and every other copy-cat around) with plans to move forward creating movies, spin-offs, sequels and everything else under the sun. While extremely ambitions and sort of presumptuous, the idea is also rather commendable. Just look at the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. They clearly didn’t care and had nothing but Depp keeping the franchise together and Part 5 was HORRIBLE. At least the Transformers are trying. The writers-room gets to work.
2016: Once again, Bay tried to be taken seriously. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is released and bombs with only $69 million worldwide. Bay, once again, goes crawling back to the Transformers.
2017: We’re now at the present. Pirates of the Caribbean 5 proved that having no writers-room may not have been the way to go with a fifth-quel. That movie is crap. As I discussed in the Pirates 5 article, this summer, the two different fifth entries are at war. Their fourth films opened similarly and earned nearly identical final amounts ($90-100 million opening, $240-245 million domestically, $1-1.1 billion worldwide). Pirates 5 just recently opened to $63 million (over the Memorial Day holiday), will likely end around $175 million domestically, and maybe $750 million worldwide. Early estimates suggest Transformers 5 will earn about the same domestically. The wildcard here is the international total.
The China novelty ended with the fourth entry but China has always liked Transformers more than Pirates. I have a feeling Transformers 5 will earn more worldwide than Pirates 5, crowning it the Summer 2017 fifth-quel champion. Only time will tell who wins (probably Transformers) and only time will tell if either one ever ends up getting a sixth entry. With no contracts in place to help Pirates 6 get made and Transformers having much of their future already solidified with the writers-room, I think the sixth-movie winner is pretty clear. The only unknown is just exactly how much Transformers 5 will earn and if it can crack that recently elusive billion-dollar barrier. Until then, all I can help you with is 5 ways to prep for Transformers 5.
1) Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
I imagine this is the most relevant movie in the franchise to prep you for the latest entry. Transformers 1 showed there were good and bad robots, the bad ones wanted an all-powerful cube called the AllSpark, the good ones wanted to protect it, and Earth was their battleground. Transformers 2 had something to do with a pyramid weapon and a robotic ballsack. Transformers 3 was about a portal device that would bring the robot planet to Earth so they could use humans as labor. Transformers 4 was about seeds that were bombs or something, and they made fields of the special metal that helps make the robots but would wipe out Earth.
As you can see, the franchise is about a robot species and, for one reason or another, Earth is always in jeopardy. However, knowing there is an endless barrage of sequels coming means Earth probably never ends up getting destroyed. If it did, there would be no humans, the sequels would only be in outer space and would basically be CGI or animated and humans would stop caring. Just watch the fourth movie because it’s the only other one Mark Wahlberg’s character is in and his backstory is probably the only one of the returning characters that matters.
2) Pacific Rim (2013)
Despite its poor box office performance, Pacific Rim was the best summer movie of 2013. Earth has terraformed itself due to global warming, so monsters now feel comfortable enough to rise from a rift deep in the ocean and destroy the world. To fight back, the people of Earth unite and build a team of large robots they can connect to and defend the planet with. If the monsters were robots and the robots that already existed had artificial intelligence, it would basically be a Transformers movie. However, it would be the best Transformers movie ever to exist. The movie is amazing! It’s funny, action packed, directed by the brilliant Guillermo del Toro, and is a surprise gem in the otherwise completely nonsensical monsters/robots/Earth-in-peril genres. At one point, a giant robot uses a cruise-sized ship like a samurai sword. This is how robot movies should be made.
3) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)
Yes, this movie just came out and, yes, it is a horrible movie. Sometimes you need to watch crap so that other lesser crap can be appreciated for not completely sucking. Pirates 5 shows that a franchise can have one amazing first entry and then somehow get progressively worse with each new entry despite fans attempting to continue supporting the franchise. Goodwill does not last forever, and Pirates 5 may have finally killed that series. Transformers 5 seems to be trying with their writers-room, and I honestly hope it’s a good (if not at least watchable) movie. Though Pirates 5 may not be a movie you or anyone should want to watch, it’s always fun to partake in a healthy rivalry between franchises so you can be among those of us that get to laugh at the loser for knowing what’s going on. Get ready to point and laugh, my friends. The war is almost over!
4) The Island (2005)
I don’t mind people calling Bay a hack. Sure, his action is crazy and edited too quickly and the close-up shots get out of hand, but he knows how to make an entertaining movie. You can’t direct such a string of successful hits (Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor) and not be doing something right. The Island was trashed by critics and bombed domestically, but I can’t help but consider it underrated. Set in a world where clones are produced as a means of assisting humans in need of organ transplants, the clones learn of this genocide… I mean medical malpractice… and try to escape their inevitable death. Starring still-on-the-rise Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, the film is action-packed and asks questions often too big for a blockbuster. It may not handle such controversial conversation with Oscar winning flair, but it is by no means a horrible movie. I think it’s quite entertaining and one of the few black marks on Bay’s career that deserves a second chance.
5) Boogie Nights (1997)
Bay has directed all five Transformers movies while the only lead actor returning for the new movie is Mark Wahlberg, though there are a handful of secondary characters coming back for the action, too. This makes Wahlberg the most important actor of Transformers 5. To enjoy the movie as much as possible, you must find a way to enjoy the presence of Marky Mark. Straight men, you may want to go find another one of your favorite Wahlberg action movies to remind you of your love for the super buff jock you all idolize. For everyone else, watch Boogie Nights. I’ve never actually seen the movie and, at a whopping two hours and 35 minutes long, I probably never will. I imagine I would really enjoy this critically acclaimed story about a young man navigating the porn industry in the 1970s and 80s if it weren’t for the length (ha) of the movie.
Some things are just too big to enjoy (ha ha). But thanks to the internet you can now Google search for the only screenshot of the movie that matters: when Mark pulls out his magical 13-inch member. No, it’s not real, it’s a prosthetic, but still. Have you ever been on a horrible date with a guy but stayed throughout dinner because you wanted to eat his cannoli for dessert? It helps being a part of a disastrous date if you’re able to at least enjoy the view of a handsome individual. Mark Wahlberg is a gorgeous specimen of a man and will definitely help make Transformers 5 watchable. And, if his face and body and Calvin Klein underwear ads aren’t enough, then seeing his 13-inches of manhood in Boogie Nights might help you see the light. Unless you’re kneeling under it because that super sausage can cast some shade (ha ha ha, nailed it).
And with that, my friends, you are ready for Transformers 5. Check back next week to see which fifth-quel won the battle of opening weekend champ and see which, based on that opening, may potentially win the war. Also, check back to see if I chose Baby Driver or Despicable Me 3 as the movie to prep for. One is currently 100% positive on Rotten Tomatoes and one is the third (slash fourth) entry in one of the world’s biggest animated movie brands. It will be a tough call, so feel free to DM me on Instagram (RoseByAnyName) if you care to cast a vote.