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Feature Film

‘Kubo’ Director Travis Knight’s Next Film Will Be Live-Action

Travis Knight, director of Kubo and the Two Strings, is switching to live-action for his next project, Bumblebee, a spin-off of the Transformers franchise.

Knight will direct from a screenplay by Christina Hodson (Shut In). Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Michael Bay, and Steven Spielberg will produce along with Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Stephen Davis.

The 2018 tentpole marks the first live-action project for Knight, who is also the president and CEO of Laika. His studio is currently working on a new film, but no details have been announced about that project yet.

Knight is repped by CAA. News of his Bumblee gig was first announced by Deadline.

  • I wonder how his expertise in stop-motion will translate with fully cgi for the characters. I do hope he brings new life into the Transformers franchise.

    Still waiting to hear when he would like to get started on a hand drawn animated film at Laika too.

  • otterhead

    I sincerely hope that this move will help fund even more amazing films for Laika… rather than be a sign that KUBO was their last feature.

    • Scott Smith

      Laika’s owners are some of the richest people on the planet. If they really wanted, they could keep making movies until the end of time that never make a cent.

      • otterhead

        When the outcome of that is a masterpiece like Kubo, I’m glad that corporate greed is being funneled into rich creativity.

  • Well…
    this certainly seems like a step down.

  • Alice

    Can you hear that? It’s the sound of his integrity, slowly flying away…

    • Strong Enough

      really? nothing wrong with popcorn movies. maybe he’ll elevate the transformers catalog like Nolan did superheroes

      • When you consider Christina Hodson’s previous film, and when you remember that Michael Bay is still producing, I highly doubt it. This is a terrible move for Travis Knight, I have to wonder why he did it. He certainly didn’t need the money…

        • Strong Enough

          some people have the dream to make movies on the large blockbuster scale. I dont think its terrible. he probably has an idea to turn this concept into something every family can enjoy.

  • Blasko

    Knight isn’t just one of their directors – he’s also the President and CEO, isn’t he? This seems kind of unheard of. I wonder where this puts Laika in terms of creative direction. Isn’t this the kind of thing Selick was worried about when he was there, or do I have that wrong?

    • KW

      Travis’ dad is Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike. When your dad is the co-founder of Nike you can be whatever you want to be.
      That said I do give Travis credit for putting a genuine effort into animation and not treat it like “something to do because youre bored, but dont actually have to work”

  • secretgoldfish

    Congrats to him but wow…….a transformers bumblebee spinoff!

    Man, that sounds like a doozy project to waste such talent on.

    Makes you glad that some folks like Adam Elliot stayed in Australia making unique/original films like Mary and Max.

    Travis gotta eat I guess, hopefully he’ll be able to do something to elevate Transformers, which wouldn’t be too hard especially with regards to story telling.

    • human beef box

      he is a billionaire. he isn’t missing any meals

    • HaBla

      Travis doesn’t need to worry about eating. His father is Phil Knight, founder of Nike (and owner of Laika).

  • Josh Evans

    …seeeeeems like a downgrade to me but I’m sure the paycheck softened that blow to him.

  • jojo

    I don’t get how 1)you can say you hate sequels and jump in the most blatant commercial filmic product and 2)you can direct this film at another studio and still be the CEO of Laika… That sounds very weird (will he be replaced ?).

  • Capital_7

    I wish he wasn’t doing this, but it’s an opportunity that would be hard to pass up. I hope he gets it done and gets back to animation where we need him.

  • Pedro Nakama

    I actually thought Travis was the last true artist in the film industry. Oh well…

  • Richard

    I see it like this: imagine everything he’s going to learn while making Bumblebee. A master class in blockbuster filmmaking. And directing a big franchise movie, and being successful, gives you a lot of freedom to do your own projects. And who knows, perhaps he’ll make the first Transformers movie that’s actually good.

  • schwarzgrau

    what do you want to say with posting this video? That he tried to start a rap career a long time ago? I guess this isn’t new to anyone here.

    • human beef box

      The point could be that “Is stop motion Travis Knights latest rap career?”
      His dad pitched in and got the best music production money could buy, but Travis eventually stopped and moved on

      It would be very sad to see him just go off and make boring popcorn movies

  • george

    but he didn’t really direct kubo did he…

    • Dino

      [citation needed]

  • Fried

    What a strange batch of judgmental nobodies people in the comments are acting like when someone decides to work on a project related to Transformers. “Integrity fading away”? “One of the last few artists”? Really? Did you guys spout that nonsense when Lauren Faust was hired to work on My Little Pony, a show known for being one big commercial? Or when Miller and Lord were asked to work on LEGO Movie? Or the new Spiderman movie?

    You would think after countless times of the animation community being wrong by blasting things like Angry Birds, Trolls, and Lego despite them all being entertaining movies, they would stop critically judging movies based on a single sentence announcement of them.

    • secretgoldfish

      Yeah we’re a bunch of nobody internet snobs who might be pre-emptively judging but it is probably also worth considering;

      A) We’re talking about a Transformers movie
      B) The Transformers movie we’re talking about is a ‘spin off movie’
      C) LAIKA are probably one of the most creative/technical animation studios around.
      D) folks tend to be ‘more’ critical of the things they feel passionate about.

      Hell I’m hoping this is the first transformers movie I’ll want to see, despite everything about this announcement seeming odd in the same way that Lasseter taking a break from Pixar to direct a disaster movie with Roland Emerich would seem odd.

      Sure, we’re total snobs but it does seem like an odd career direction for Travis to take after building such a great animation studio and films.

    • barney_miller

      Maybe because he recently and very loudly proclaimed his disdain for sequels, spin offs and franchises.

    • Expressing a speculative opinion doesn’t make the people who post anonymous comments on Cartoon Brew ‘judgmental nobodies.’ I could be wrong, in fact, I would love to be proven wrong. But look at the facts:
      Travis Knight, the CEO of Laika, the director of one of the best animated films of 2016, agrees to direct a spin-off movie set in the Michael Bay Transformers universe. The screenwriter attached the project is Christina Hodsen. Her first film has a score of 6% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ouch. Now I know that critics aren’t always right, but a score as low as 6% is usually telling.

      This is an odd, and seemingly bad choice for Knight to make. I imagine he has quite a bit of creative freedom at Laika. Why sacrifice that? This will likely tarnish his reputation as a director. I can’t imagine this will open up opportunities for him to work on good live-action movies if Bumblebee is as bad as I imagine it will be.

      P.S. Amid, there’s a typo in the last sentence of this article.
      ‘News of his Bumblee gig was first announced by Deadline.’

    • HaBla

      Actually, if you check Cartoonbrew’s archives, you’ll find that there was a lot of negativity about all those things. There was even a hilariously idiotic rant-spasm specifically about Lauren Faust joining the MLP revival. I believe the completely rational and not-at-all hyperbolic title of the article was “The End of the Creator-Driven Era in TV Animation.”

    • HaBla

      also… is this your first time visiting the Cartoonbrew comments section? This is super tame.

    • Thedude3445

      Was going to very loudly agree with you until you mentioned Trolls being entertaining. Well… you’re right about Lego at least.

    • Ed-S

      Have to admit that the first thought that crossed my mind was that he decided to go slumming by making a “live action” Transformers movie; however, I can see your point about being immediately judgmental in a negative way.

  • SnicksterFace

    How about a stop-motion animated Transformers movie!

  • RedHerring

    He should direct a stop-motion G1 Transformers movie. I’d pay to see that!

  • joel brinkerhoff

    I’m one of those nobodies mentioned who don’t have much
    influence, but I’ve actually worked with Travis before Laika and know he’s an
    amazingly talented animator. I think
    this is a great opportunity to grow as a director at someone else’s expense, (I
    hear they’re even paying him!) and, after 10 years, Laika has the legs to stand
    while Travis learns his craft. This seems
    like a great step and I wish him well!

  • Thedude3445

    Good for him, as long as Laika is still set for their 2018 release. There’s nothing wrong with a director branching out into different projects, even if they are a CEO of something.

    Still…. I wish the Bumblebee movie was stop-motion. I would actually watch it.