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Why We Never Got a Sequel to Transformers: The Last Knight - Will Cade Yeager Ever Return?

What's the deal with the mainline Transformers franchise these days?

By Trent Moore

The Transformers film franchise is a wild one, a surprise box office juggernaut born from the beloved line of toys (and animated series) we all loved in the 1980s. But as new prequel movies continue to roll out, we still haven’t seen a modern day follow-up in years.

So what’s the deal?

The most recent mainline, modern-day Transformers film was Transformers: The Last Knight (stream it on SYFY now), which was released in 2017. It was the second flick in the franchise to star Mark Wahlberg as inventor Cade Yeager, who took over the “main human” role in the franchise after Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky was written out after the original trilogy run. 

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The Last Knight made more than $600 million at the worldwide box office, which would typically be a hit, but considering it was the most expensive Transformers film ever made — and the two before it made over $1 billion globally each — the studio had some cold feet on continuing that direction with the box office take showing diminishing returns and costs climbing.

The movie itself was huge and bonkers, serving in some ways as the culmination of the original trilogy and the new films, with Wahlberg’s character joined by original trilogy co-stars like Josh Duhamel and John Turturro, and the supporting cast rounded out with heavy hitters like Anthony Hopkins chewing all the scenery he can chew.

But since then, the franchise has looked to the past for its way forward. We got the mid-budget 1980s-set prequel Bumblebee, followed by this year’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, which was set in the 1990s (with both films taking place before the events of the original Transformers movie).

Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen)'s chrome shines in the low light in Transformers: The Last Knight (2017).

So why didn’t we ever get a sequel to Transformers: The Last Knight?

Put simply, the film underperformed at the box office, so the studio opted to rethink and broaden its approach to the Transformers franchise. Hence the prequels. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t plans for a Last Knight sequel. In 2019, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura revealed they were working on a script that would’ve served as a direct sequel to Last Knight, picking up the “main family series” of the saga. They were also working on a Bumblebee sequel, though it’s hard to say if that’s still in the offing, or if it evolved into Rise of the Beasts.

So what’s next for Transformers?

It’s hard to say at this point, though the options are wide open. The ending of Beast Wars famously connected the dots for a potential G.I. Joe crossover, so the franchise is most likely gearing up for some type of crossover that will follow the late-1990s timeline of Beast Wars. But the present day saga is still out there, with Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager still ready to help his robot pals take on the next big threat.

Want to catch up on the latest chapter in the mainline Transformers saga? You can stream Transformers: The Last Knight right now on SYFY.

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