Though we’ve come to expect every new bit of information on the upcoming Transformers 4 to spill from the mouth of director Michael Bay, it’s important to remember that the iconic toy line is wholly owned by Hasbro. Thus, when Hasbro president and CEO Brian Goldner offers information on the flick you really ought to pay attention. Such was the case at the recent UBS Best Of Americas conference in London.
Though Goldner’s comments (which were helpfully collected by “NIBMRatchet” of Transformers fan site TFW2005) mostly centered on Hasbro’s plans for the Transformers toyline, he also strayed into discussion of the upcoming Transformers 4 and dropped the rather important news that Michael Bay’s next Transformers flick would focus on a new group of robot characters. According to Goldner, though 2011’s Transformers: Dark Of The Moon did quite well at the box office, toy sales following the film failed to meet Hasbro’s expectations. Despite the bad news though, Goldner doesn’t appear all that concerned by the loss of sales, and claims that all pop culture brands lose their luster with time and must eventually be re-imagined.
Though Goldner, as the head of Hasbro, has the final say on what happens with the Transformers property, it should be noted that his words seem carefully chosen so as not to dictate the direction Michael Bay might want to take with Transformers 4. That said, Hasbro is not just a well-compensated rightsholder in this case; the toy company has a vested interest in the success of Bay’s films as they generate millions of dollars in toy sales. As a result, while Goldner is not directly involved with Bay’s film, we see no reason to doubt his claims and expect that Hasbro is currently hard on work on creating a toy line to tie in with the imminent Transformers 4.
Those looking forward to Transformers 4 will no doubt recall that these new ‘bots are only one minor part of the series’ reinvention. It’s long been known that the human cast of the previous Transformers films would be absent in Transformers 4, replaced by a whole new group of attractive Hollywood stars. However, it’s important to note that this is not a reboot, despite the entirely new cast of characters, both metallic and otherwise. In June Michael Bay described the film as “grounded” in the mythos his first three Transformers movies established, and stated for the record that Transformers 4 would not reboot the entire live-action Transformers movie universe.
Taking all this information together, it sounds like Transformers 4 is going to be something of an expanded universe tale, sort of in the same way that The Avengers and Iron Man both exist separately and as parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Our biggest question now is whether Goldner’s comments completely preclude any of the classic Transformers characters from appearing in Transformers 4. We’re intrigued by the idea of following a new group of robots — particular if Bay sets the film on the Transformers’ war-ravaged home planet of Cybertron — but we’re having a really difficult time imagining a successful Transformers movie that completely ignores the existence of Optimus Prime. If Goldner is to be believed we’ll see how this all pans out in the summer of 2014.