Everybody seems to be getting in on the shared-universe idea, and the head of the new Transformers writers' room has opened up about what the heck they’re trying to do.
Veteran TV and film writer Akiva Goldsman (Fringe, I Am Legend) has been tasked by Paramount to create a writers' room to develop a series (or several series) of films based in the Transformers universe. Like it or not, Michael Bay’s explosion-fueled, toy-inspired film franchise is pulling in billions at the box office. It’s not going anywhere, so Paramount is doubling (and tripling, and quadrupling) down on those robots in disguise.
Goldsman is running a massive writers' room that includes Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand, The Incredible Hulk), Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (Iron Man), Jeff Pinkner (Fringe, Lost), Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari (Ant-Man), Lindsey Beer (Dig) and Christina Hodson (Shut In). Now Goldsman has finally told us what they’re going to be doing.
Basically? They’re riffing on the idea of a TV writers' room, only with several A-listers around the table and everyone talking Transformers. They’ll be digging into everything, from forgotten toys to random bits of merchandising you probably never knew existed, in the search for big-screen ideas. Yay?
Here’s what Goldsman told Deadline about the concept:
"There is such reciprocity between TV and movies now, that we’re borrowing this from TV. I got a taste of this from JJ Abrams when I came in to write an episode of Fringe, and then Jeff Pinkner let me hang around for four years like the drunk uncle. The whole process of the story room was really delightful, and we are seeing it more in movies as this moves toward serialized storytelling. There are good rooms around town, including the Monsters Room at Universal, the Star Wars room, and of course, at Marvel. We’re trying to beg, borrow and steal from the best of them, and gathered a group of folks interested in developing and broadening this franchise. There is a central corridor of movies that has been proceeding quite well, but our challenge will be to answer, where do we go from here?
We've got a work space that is beautifully production designed to be immersive with a strong sense of the franchise history. We will look at the toys, the TV shows, the merchandise, everything that has been generated by Hasbro, from popular to forgotten iterations, and establish a mythological time line. It has been designed with a lot of visual help, toys, robots, sketches and writers and artists. After that super saturation, the writers will figure out not one, but numerous films that will extend the universe. It just felt like such fertile ground and a rich environment for storytelling, and there has already been thoughtful work done long before any of us came into the room. We will be innovative miners, and we will have fun and get to do what we imagined this was all about when we were kids."
If nothing else, maybe the likes of Kirkman, Penn and Pinkner can breathe some creative life into the lucrative but uninspired franchise. These movies aren't going anywhere, so here's hoping these folks can at least make the next dozen or so movies worth watching. Fingers crossed.