Paramount announced Wednesday that it has removed next year’s planned “Transformers” installment from its release slate.
The sequel to “Transformers: The Last Knight” had been scheduled for release on June 28, 2019. The sole “Transformers” film now left on Paramount’s slate is the spinoff “Bumblebee,” which will hit theaters this Christmas.
Last year, “The Last Knight” scored the lowest box office returns of any “Transformers” installment with $605 million worldwide against a $217 million production budget, including a franchise-low $130 million domestic cume. The birth and rise of Michael Bay’s series based on the classic Hasbro toy line was one of the signature achievements of Paramount’s late former CEO Brad Grey, who passed away last year.
But the decline of the once critic-proof series over the course of this decade has run parallel with Paramount’s drop in annual revenue. “Transformers” peaked in 2011 with its third installment, “Dark of the Moon,” with $1.12 billion, a year in which Paramount led all studios with $1.95 billion grossed domestically with 19.2 percent market share.
But last year, “The Last Knight,” despite being the first film in the series to gross less than $200 million domestically, was Paramount’s top release in a 2017 where the studio only grossed $534 million domestic with a market share of just 4.8 percent.
Jim Gianopulos, who became Paramount’s CEO last May after Grey’s death, promised to turn around Paramount’s fortunes at the studio’s CinemaCon presentation last month. One of the centerpieces of the presentation was a sneak peek of “Bumblebee,” a spinoff that promises a more character-driven “Transformers” film and may provide a glimpse at how the franchise will be retooled under the studio’s new leadership.
Taking place decades before the “Transformers” series, the upcoming film will explore how Bumblebee, the scout for the Autobots, first encountered humans on Earth. Paramount heavily touted the film’s director, Laika Animation’s Travis Knight, who has earned multiple Oscar nominations for his stop-motion animated films like “Coraline” and “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena will star.
Replacing “Transformers” on Paramount’s summer 2019 slate is the Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” which will star Taron Egerton and be directed by “Bohemian Rhapsody” director Dexter Fletcher. The June 28 slot held by “Transformers” will now be filled by the Tiffany Haddish comedy “Limited Partners.”