Paramount and Hasbro still seem to be floundering a bit with where they want to go with the Transformers franchise, but the studios have finally made a move on the animated prequel project they announced back in 2015. Josh Cooley, whose film Toy Story 4 won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, has been tapped to direct a new, theatrically released animated prequel film that will focus on the origins of Optimus Prime and Megatron.
The movie will not be connected to any of the previous film timelines, including the one kickstarted by Bumblebee. It will also not be connected to any of the direct-to-video animated Transformers films that have built their own universe over the years or the upcoming Transformers: War for Cybertron Netflix series.
The live-action movies are still moving forward, but with COVID-19 affecting all film production, Paramount and Hasbro are looking towards animation since work can be done on these films while still adhering to social distancing measures. To that end, Cooley, who also wrote Inside Out, is overseeing the final script edits of a screenplay by Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari, who wrote Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Michael Bay drove the franchise into the ground hard by the end of his tenure, at least in terms of narrative, and Paramount and Hasbro have been trying to dig out of the hole. Bumblebee was a fantastic start but underperformed at the box office; this animated universe may be what kicks off another series of massive box office returns for the franchise.