So it looks like Akiva Goldsman and Michael Bay are taking a page out of the TV model for their upcoming “Transformers” Cinematic Universe, its sequels, its spin-offs, its potential prequels and more. Rather than hire one writer per film—or if you’re Warner Bros. pit multiple writers against each other for “Wonder Woman” or Sony doing the same for their female driven “21 Jump Street” spinoff— Goldsman and Bay are adopting the TV model of a writers room think tank: anywhere from seven to ten writers in a room who toss around ideas all day and break stories. It’s a collective, best-ideas win approach and they’ve decided that’s best for the TCU.
“There is such reciprocity between TV and movies now, that we’re borrowing this from TV,” Goldsman told Deadline recently. “I got a taste of this from J.J. 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.”
As Goldsman notes, the “Transformers” team are not the only ones employing this model. Universal has a Monsters writing room for their burgeoning MonstersCU and even “Star Wars” has its own kind of room and employs Simon Kinberg, Lawrence Kasdan and a few others overseers is accepting the format with the new writers they bring in on each project.
“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,” Goldsman said. “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?”
With the addition of Steven DeKnight, the showrunner and writer of “Daredevil” season one, the “Transformers” brain trust is now complete. The think tank includes Zak Penn (“Pacific Rim 2,” the original pre-Whedon ‘Avengers’ draft), Jeff Pinkner (“Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “Lost”), Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari (two of the Marvel guns who worked on “Ant-Man”), “Walking Dead”creator Robert Kirkman, “Iron Man” scribes Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan (“Black Hawk Down”), Geneva Robertson-Dwore (“Hibernation“) and Christina Hodson and Lindsey Beer (the former recently hired to write “The Fugitive,” the latter a comedy fantasy writer currently at work on a ’Wizard Of Oz’ remake). That’s a pretty powerhouse team.
So is it like a sandbox with Hasbro toys and a stenographer? Maybe. “We will look at the toys, the TV shows, the merchandise, everything that has been generated 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.”
So expect “Transformers” movies until the end of time unless one of the prime films stumbles and falls hard. You may groan, but the worldwide audience has taken four “Transformers” movies to a grand total of $3.7 billion so far.