Friday, February 26, 2021

Hasbro Investor Day 2021 Reveals Two New Cartoons

Today was Hasbro Investor Day event where they announce their results from previous quarter while also providing some info on their future plans. On the Transformers front that includes 2 new cartoons series. Allspark has provided a nice summary of the entire event but here is the Transformers specific parts. If could sum up future plans for Transformers, it really comes out seeming like a whole lot of "Beast Wars" inspired content. 

- Feature film in partnership with Paramount slated for summer 2022. 
- New animated full-length feature film in development. 
- War for Cybertron: Kingdom to be released July 2021 on Netflix
- Transformers: BotBots, a new 20-episode animated comedy series at Netflix. 
- New 26-episode cartoon series on Nickelodeon.

The feature film refers to Transformers 7 that may or may not be called Transformers: Beast Alliance that will be directed Steven Caple Jr (Creed II) and could be a heist type film. The animated film has long been rumored to be an origin story of the Transformers civil war which has been touched on in War for Cybertron and sorta being told sorta in the current IDW reboot Transformers story. Considering how heavy War for Cybertron: Kingdom toy line is with Beast Wars characters, I assume its going to act as a kind of reintroduction of those characters, useful if the live action movie plans on using them too. 

 As for the Nickelodeon cartoon series, it sounds like its their plan to replace the Cyberverse line of toys. The series is being described as about found family but for Transformers' fans the key bit is "a new species of Transformers must find their place and purpose among Autobots, Decepticons, and the human family that adopts them". Again this sounds a whole lot like "Beast Wars" type characters since likely have to be human size or smaller and not part of the traditional 2 factions. 

 Portion of Nickelodeon Cartoon Press Release:
Nickelodeon, the number-one network for kids, and Hasbro’s Entertainment One (eOne) have partnered to co-produce an original animated Transformers series (26 half-hour episodes), based on the iconic global property. In the action-comedy series, a new species of Transformers must find their place and purpose among Autobots, Decepticons, and the human family that adopts them. The series will premiere exclusively on Nickelodeon in the U.S. before rolling out internationally.
“As soon as I read the creative concept, which at its core is about family, I knew we absolutely had to tell this story with our good friends at eOne and Hasbro,” said Ramsey Naito, President, Nickelodeon Animation. “The series will tell a reimagined story featuring both original characters and fan-favorites for a whole new generation of kids and families. The creative team at Nick, overseen by Claudia Spinelli, SVP of Animation Development, can’t wait to get started on building this new world.”
“We’re thrilled to be working with Nickelodeon to expand the Transformers animated universe and bring an all-new more than meets the eye story to life,” said Olivier Dumont, eOne’s President of Family Brands. “This new series is a fresh creative take on the brand, which will excite longtime fans around the world and soon to be fans alike, all being introduced to the robots in disguise by an A list creative team led by eOne’s Mikiel Houser .”
The all-new animated Transformers series is executive produced by Ant Ward (Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and Nicole Dubuc (Transformers: Rescue Bots) and developed and co-executive produced by Dale Malinowski (Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio, the series is developed for television by Spinelli and Dana Vasquez-Eberhardt, Senior Director, Current Series and Development, Animation. Production will be overseen for Nickelodeon by Conrad Montgomery, Vice President, Current Series, Animation and for eOne by Mikiel Houser, Director of TV Development.
Portion of Netflix BotBots Press Release:
● Netflix and Entertainment One (eOne), Hasbro’s entertainment studio, announce Transformers: BotBots, a new 20-episode animated comedy series following the mischievous little Transformers robots, otherwise known as BotBots.
● Kevin Burke and Chris “Doc” Wyatt (Spider-Man, Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy, Stretch Armstrong & the Flex Fighters) will serve as executive producers and showrunners.
● Logline: BotBots are Transformers robots that disguise themselves as everyday mall objects. By day, these BotBots hide quietly on store shelves but at night, they jump into adventure until a group of BotBots called ‘The Lost Bots’ run into the mall security guard and put all the bots in danger. Will these misfits be able to overcome their differences, defeat the security guard and gain acceptance in the eyes of the other bots?
● Olivier Dumont, eOne’s President of Family Brands: “We are delighted to partner with Netflix to bring an all-new Transformers story to life and explore a whole new universe with BotBots. Transformers storytelling has expanded into so many new avenues and we can’t wait to surprise both existing fans and new fans coming to the franchise for the first time with these fun bots who are definitely more than meets the eye!"
● The series takes inspiration from Hasbro’s popular Transformers: BotBots toy line, released in late 2018. BotBots are 1-inch collectible characters that can change from an ordinary object into a little robot in just 3-5 easy steps.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

First Transformers Movie Pitch Meeting (Humor)

While continue the long wait for more news on the Transformers movie front, here is an amusing take on what the pitch meeting for the first Transformers movie might have looked like over a decade ago. Thanks to Feris O. for the link.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Tessa Thompson Like Actress for Transformers 7 Leading Role?

Joining the rumor of a possible title for Transformers 7 as Transformers: Beast Alliance, we now have another one. This is about the casting of one of the lead roles for the film. The goal apparently is to cast a Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnorok, Westworld) like actress. This does not mean to actually cast Tessa Thompson herself, likely because at this point in her career she is probably more than they want to spend and she is very busy and likely unavailable anyway.

Nope by "like" they seem to mean another African-American actress with enough filming experience to be a familiar face but not so famous that she would be too expensive for the budget to cast. Examples cited include Ruth Negga (Preacher), Jurnee Smollett (Lovecraft Country), and Zoe Kravitz (Big Little Lies). These are example, not necessarily in contention for the role.

Now before get insulted by the "like" reference, its pretty common term use in Hollywood. Its a short hand for using a very famous face to reference the similiar body and look type they are seeking for a role. So they will say they want someone "like" Tom Hanks or "like" Scarlett Johansson, think of what characteristics pop in your mind for that actor, then actors that remind you of them, and just like that have a short list of potential actors for a role and an easy way to describe how invision that role being handled. Based on all that, what other actors do you think would be good candiates for the "like" Tessa role in Transformers 7?

Transformers: Beast Alliance Possible Title of Live Action Film

It seems a possible title for Transformers 7 could be "Transformers: Beast Alliance" alluding to the use of the Transformers: Beast Wars characters for the film. The rumor first started earlier this week with now Production Weekly adding the film to their list of TV and movies in pre-production. The website is subscription based service used by producers and crew members to keep an eye on possible upcoming jobs they can seek. The film is still set to be directed by Steven Caple Jr (Creed II) and rumored to be a heist film.

Having said that, the title remain firmly in the "rumor" column. The About Me page for Production Weekly says "Our professional research staff continuously tracks and compiles up-to-date data on projects in various stages of development, both domestically and internationally." This could mean information is provided by the studios themselves, but it could also mean its provided by them mining rumors, trade websites and other sources to gather the information.

The use of Beast Wars characters could be a very smart, cost saving move by Paramount and Hasbro. One of the goals of the Bumblebee movie was to prove they can make a film at a cheaper cost, shooting for $100 million or less range once take into account taking advantage of tax incentives and other cost offsets (like merchandising and in movie advertising). One of the biggest costs of the Transformers film is not the alt mode, but the robot mode and the transformation sequence. They learned to "cheat" the tranformation in a way similiar to the cartoons, cutting that cost dramatically but the robot mode remains a high expense. The work around has been limiting robot mode and limiting robot mode to human interaction as that adds complexity to the scene. An example being having conversations take place to the alt mode.

Thanks to The Lion King, The Jungle Book and other recent films, the CGI animal character has known, repeatable and thus cheaper solution solutions to a robot mode and even better, no reason the animal mode cannot talk back allowing for plenty of interaction, character emotion and more. Even better, the robot mode will be more or less human size which would make filming scenes much easier, and thus cheaper, as do not have to account for the size of the mode in the same way. An example could be an action sequence where instead of showing a building being knocked down because a robot slammed into it, its just a wall that gets a dent. A car doesn't go flying from a robot kick, but slides away. A walk and talk doesn't have to be outside (because giant robot) but can now be on a soundstage on the regular sets already built for the film, thereby further cutting costs.

If they are using the Beast Wars characters, I put out the call now for them to use the orginial voice actors where possible. As the other live action Transformers films showed, the classic voices just work and are irreplacable. Use a named actor for the live action roles, save the voice roles for those that have already more than demonstrated they are capable of doing the work justice.

If the rumor turns out to be true, it will be interesting to see how Paramount and Hasbro introduce this new breed of Transformers. In the meantime, I do recommend checking out Transformers: Beast Wars. The first season is a bit of a slog, but season 2 gets better and season 3 is just a wall to wall home run.
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