In the more than 12 years since the first Transformers film commenced shooting in White Sands, New Mexico, the straightforward idea of turning a popular toy into a movie has surprised even its creators by growing into a worldwide phenomenon with box office receipts totaling $4.3 billion. With Paramount Pictures’ new action-adventure Bumblebee, the saga enters new territory with a story as emotionally resonant as it is action-packed.
Check out a new Spot below and watch Bumblebee in Philippine cinemas Tuesday, January 8.
As the film begins, audiences get their first glimpse of the Bumblebee of Cybertron lore. Known as B-127, the bright yellow transformer is a fierce warrior who has fought in a centuries-long conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons. When all seems lost for the Autobots, B-127 is dispatched to Earth with a mission: Protect the planet and its inhabitants in the hope of establishing a refuge for his comrades.
His arrival is complicated when two Decepticons, Shatter and Dropkick, follow him and launch an attack that endangers Earth’s inhabitants, and an American military team decides, understandably, that the alien species is a threat to mankind. Bumblebee attempts to hide from his pursuers disguised as a dilapidated yellow Volkswagen Beetle, but when a teenaged girl named Charlie decides to restore the vehicle, she inadvertently discovers his true identity.
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura describes the film as an origin story. “This is Bumblebee’s origin story on earth. Since the movie predates the Bay chronology we had the opportunity to do a deeper dive into his character, giving the audience even more reason to fall in love with him. He effectively creates a brand new story through his relationship with Charlie. It becomes a rite of passage story for both of them,” he explains.
When Screenwriter Christina Hodson first fleshed out her original take on Bumblebee, the filmmakers were attracted by her vision, Hodson envisioned a smaller, more family-friendly Transformers film with an emotional story at its core.
The producers were intrigued by the concept of a “kinder, gentler” Transformers story that incorporates a more emotional, humanized version of the bots. Christina convinced us to take a leap of faith and make a different kind of film than we had before,” says di Bonaventura. “The audience has always wanted to know more about who the Transformers are, and her story allowed us to develop the characters and tell a more intimate story. We let the audience get to know a Transformer in a way they never have before.”
Hodson’s first draft, completed in the fall of 2016, was an emotionally centered story around Hailee Steinfeld’s character Charlie and Bumblebee, “I love seeing girls going on adventures,” Hodson says. “And I wanted to create a female character who didn’t fit into typical boxes. I think one of the things that makes Charlie feel like an outsider is that she isn’t just one thing. She’s a bit nerd, a bit tomboy and a bit athlete. It is absolutely full of Transformers-style thrills and adrenaline and adventure and fun, but has a lot of heart, too.”
The idea of focusing on one specific character was also greeted enthusiastically at Hasbro, creators of the original Transformers. Brian Goldner, the company’s CEO and an executive producer of the film, was delighted to read a script that addressed the “inner life” of Bumblebee.
“We at Hasbro are guardians of the Transformers lore, so we particularly appreciate the way Charlie brings him to life in a whole new way that still connects directly to what fans know and love about Bumblebee.”
“Bumblebee was the perfect choice, he is a fan favorite and probably the most human-like autobot. Bumblebee is heartfelt, has a youthful exuberance and is a multi-layered character,” explains di Bonaventura.
Goldner also endorses the idea of setting the film in the 1980s, when the first Transformers toy line, animated television series and comic books took the world by storm. “Setting the story within that vibrant decade is a wonderful tip of the hat to the talented creators of those characters,” he concudes.
Bumblebee is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/uipmoviesph/ and use the hashtag #BumblebeeMovie.
On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.
Bumblebee is produced by Transformers franchise veterans Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Michael Bay, along with executive producers Steven Spielberg, Brian Goldner and Mark Vahradian. Chris Brigham (Argo, Inception) will also executive produce. The screenplay is written by Christina Hodson.
Directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings, Coraline), the film stars Hailee Steinfeld (Edge of Seventeen, Pitch Perfect 2), Pamela Adlon (Better Things), John Cena (Blockers, Daddy’s Home 2), Stephen Schneider (Comedy Central’s Broad City) and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Spider-Man: Homecoming).