"Bumblebee" "Bumblebee"

Josh Cooley, who won an Oscar in February for directing Pixar’s Toy Story 4, has been hired to direct an animated Transformers feature.

Here’s what we know at the moment:

Josh Cooley
Josh Cooley
  • Cooley will direct from a script by Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari, the writing duo behind Marvel sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp, who also worked on the original Ant-Man. Entertainment One, the Canadian media company acquired last year by Hasbro, will develop and produce the film alongside Paramount Animation.
  • According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The project is acting as a prequel of sorts to the live-action Transformers movies, and will explore the origin of the heroic Megatron and the seeds of conflict between the harmony-seeking Autobots and domination-loving Decepticons.”
  • Cooley is a director, writer, and storyboard artist with credits on many Pixar features, including The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, Up, and Inside Out (whose screenplay he co-wrote). He directed the short film Riley’s First Date? at the studio. Toy Story 4 was his feature directorial debut.
  • Paramount Animation’s recent history is checkered. Its last release, 2019’s Wonder Park, underwhelmed critically and commercially, but it has an ambitious slate of projects in the works, including monster-wrestling film Rumble and an adaptation of Laurence Yep’s book series The Tiger’s Apprentice. There are high hopes for its forthcoming feature The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run, whose release date has been pushed around during the coronavirus crisis, and currently stands at August 7.
  • Transformers started in the 1980s as a Japanese toyline, to which Hasbro eventually acquired the rights. A live-action film franchise based on the toys was launched with 2007’s Transformers; the franchise has spawned five films and a spin-off, 2018’s Bumblebee (image at top), which was directed by Laika president and CEO Travis Knight.
  • The live-action franchise, which has grossed around $4.3 billion globally, continues to generate movies: two more are in the works. In the current climate, however, animation is seen as a safer bet, given that it lends itself better to remote working than live-action production. Cooley’s movie may have been fast-tracked as a result.

Watch Cartoon Brew’s interview with Paramount Animation president Mireille Soria: