Old-school Transformers get the spotlight in new ‘Bumblebee’ preview

The robots in disguise are headed back in the big screen in Bumblebee, a spinoff of the blockbuster Transformers franchise. A new behind-the-scenes preview of the film offers a peek at the old-school inspiration for some of the most popular Autobots and Decepticons appearing in the film.

Directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), the film is a prequel to the Transformers film franchise and focuses on the early adventures of the yellow Autobot, Bumblebee, after his arrival on Earth. Set in the late 1980s, Bumblebee not only brings the franchise back in time but also appears to feature many of original Transformers characters that were introduced in the first generation of the toy line and animated series.

Some of those early iterations of the Transformers can be seen in a behind-the-scenes video (see above) released in November.

Previously, a trailer for the film offered the first glimpse of popular Decepticon character Soundwave, who transformed into a cassette-playing “boom box” in his original, ’80s-era incarnation, and was accompanied by a variety of smaller robots who transformed into cassette tapes. One of those cassette characters, Ravage (who transformed into a panther-type robot), can also be seen in the trailer.

Along with a host of new and returning voice actors as the robot characters — including veteran Transformers voice actor Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime — Bumblebee also stars Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Pamela Adlon (Better Things), and John Cena (Blockers).

The first trailer for the film (see below) was released June 5 and offered audiences a sneak peek at where the film will take Bumblebee and some of the other Transformers that will appear in the movie. Maybe most importantly for longtime fans, the preview delivered the first look at the Volkswagen Bug vehicle mode Bumblebee famously adopted before becoming a Camaro in director Michael Bay’s films.

The first footage from the film debuted at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on April 2018, with several of the film’s cast members in attendance to introduce the clip. The first look was a “quiet, emotive clip,” according to The Hollywood Reporter, and it reportedly showed Steinfeld’s character Charlie watching as her VW transforms into Bumblebee. The transformation in the clip left both him and Charlie frightened before they started to form a bond.

Steinfeld highlighted the emotional aspect, telling the audience that “the relationship with Bee had heart.” After debuting the first look, Steinfeld tweeted a photo from CinemaCon and shared “the perfect shot” of her with one of the movie’s posters.

In August 2017, Paramount Pictures and Hasbro confirmed that filming had begun and offered up the first indication of the movie’s storyline, which will serve as a prequel of sorts to Bay’s Transformers movies.

“On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town,” reads the film’s official synopsis. “Charlie (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.”

The studios also revealed the first, full cast listing for the film at the time, and it contained a few surprises. Previously announced Academy Award nominee Steinfeld leads a group that also includes professional wrestler and actor Cena (Trainwreck) in a featured role. Primetime Emmy Award winner Adlon (LouieBetter Things) is part of the cast as well, along with Stephen Schneider (Broad City), Jason Drucker (Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul), Kenneth Choi (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Ricardo Hoyos (Degrassi: Next Class), Abby Quinn (Landline), Grace Dzienny (Zoo), Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and Rachel Crow (Deidra & Laney Rob a Train).

Former Laika Entertainment animator and Kubo and the Two Strings helmer Knight directs Bumblebee from a script penned by Christina Hodson (Unforgettable). Bumblebee filmed in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The studios confirmed in August 2017 that Bumblebee: The Movie will hit theaters December 21, 2018, a full six months later than its original premiere date. That puts the film up against Warner Bros. Pictures’ Aquaman movie, which stars Jason Momoa as the aquatic superhero.

The film will likely face some intense competition at the box office, and not just from Aquaman. The holiday season tends to be a popular premiere period for big-budget blockbusters, and Bumblebee will also see competition for younger audiences from Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, which opens just a few days earlier.

Updated on November 27, 2018: Added a behind-the-scenes video for the film.

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