After overseeing three consecutive Hasbro-based Autobot adventures that collectively earned over $2.6 billion globally, Bay was looking to take a break from digital mayhem, especially since he only completed the trilogy out of pride, trying to make up for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. He just wrapped principal photography on Pain & Gain, a lower budget, based on a true story dark comedy starring Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg as Florida bodybuilders whose kidnapping plans go very much awry.
We learned in February that Bay would be returning to the franchise despite his previous assertions. Nonetheless, star Shia LaBeouf has no intention of returning as human lead Sam Witwicky, leaving many wondering just what direction the series will take. Speaking to Hero Complex in a lengthy profile, Bay said, "It’s a new cast. We’ve moving on to something different.”
“It’s not a reboot, that’s maybe the wrong word," Bay explained. "I don’t want to say reboot because then people will think we’re doing a Spider-Man and starting from the beginning. We’re not. We’re taking the story that you’ve seen — the story we’ve told in three movies already — and we’re taking it in a new direction. But we’re leaving those three as the history. It all still counts. I met with the writer before I went off to do ‘Pain and Gain’ and we talked about a bunch of ideas. We let that simmer for a bit. He’s been thinking about stuff and now we’re getting back together next week to see what we’ve got and to see if it gels.”
Ehren Kruger, who co-wrote Revenge of the Fallen and received sole writing credit on Dark of the Moon, has been associated with the next film, and he's presumably the writer Bay's referring to here.
While each of the part films have included small bits in outer space, often flashbacks or brief digressions, Transformers 4 might send some more time going cosmic, particularly since the robot characters are said to be more central this time around. Asked about the possibility of more space travel, Bay answered, "I think so, yeah, a little. That feels like the way to go, doesn’t it? I want to go a little off but I don’t want to go too sci-fi. I still want to keep it grounded.That’s what works in these movies, that’s what makes it accessible.”
Accessibility tends to take a backseat to slow-motion moneyshots and ever bigger explosions in these movies, but it looks as though the explosions might get a little smaller in the next sequel. Rather than upping the budget to provide the requisite spectacle, Bay said, “It’s going to be less, actually. Our mandate is to cut about $30 million.” Dark of the Moon was actually a few million cheaper than Revenge of the Fallen, and removing $30 million will make the fourth Transformers the cheapest since the first movie, which cost $150 million.
“It’s kind of daunting and scary — you want to try to keep it going, to match what’s come before," Bay commented on the challenge of coming back for a sequel that he said would "absolutely" be his last. "We’ve accomplished a lot [with the first three films] but that doesn’t mean you get anything handed to you or that you’ve got everything figured out.”
Since the last film set a franchise high gross of over a billion dollars thanks partially to inflated 3D ticket prices, we can safely assume that Transformers 4 will be 3D. The film will involve redesigned Autobots and Decepticons, allowing for ever more lucrative merchandise sales.