We have good news and bad news coming out of the Transformers camp today.
First up, the good: WWE wrestler John Cena has landed a lead role in the Travis Knight-directed Bumblebee movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But rather than lighting up theaters in June, the first of Paramount’s Transformers spinoffs will now open Stateside on December 21st, 2018. That’s a release date it currently shares with Aquaman, so it’ll be interesting to find out if Warner Bros. and/or Paramount shuffle their slates to avoid a clash of interests or, in the more likely scenario, whether the two standalone tentpoles will duke it out for box office supremacy in a year’s time.
Then again, it’s worth keeping in mind that Paramount’s Bumblebee movie, one that takes place in the 1980s, will skew toward a younger audience – hence the casting of Cena – with Hailee Steinfeld (Pitch Perfect) ready to take point as Charlie. Joined by a host of up-and-comers, including Jorge Lendeborg, Jason Drucker, Abby Quinn, Rachel Crow, Ricardo Hoyos and Gracie Dzienny, Knight’s offshoot begins in the year 1987, “where we find Bumblebee refuged in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. 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.”
Also starring Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., and Kenneth Choi, the biggest hurdle currently facing Bumblebee is the potential onset of franchise fatigue, after Transformers: The Last Knight, Michael Bay’s final (?) entry in the series, failed to light up the box office in the way Paramount would have hoped.
That places yet more pressure on Travis Knight’s Bumblebee spinoff. The casting of John Cena is certainly an intriguing one, as it reaffirms Paramount’s mission to cater to a younger demographic. Not only that, but it’s also a major coup for the budding actor, who has impressed in Trainwreck, Sisters, Daddy’s Home and Doug Liman’s wartime thriller The Wall. He’ll next be seen in comedy sequel Daddy’s Home 2.
It’s official: Paramount and Travis Knight’s Bumblebee spinoff has renounced its prime time summer release window in favor of the festive corridor (a first for the Transformers series). But can it really compete against Aquaman? We’ll find out on December 21st, 2018.