Transformers Animated Prequel Movie Set with Toy Story 4 Director

A Transformers animated prequel film is in the works, set on Cybertron, centering on Optimus Prime and Megatron.

Optimus Prime and Megatron in Transformers: The Last Knight
Photo: Paramount Pictures

The Transformers film franchise is getting a new kind of offering from its proverbial AllSpark, an animated prequel movie. The early details imply ambitious designs for this project, and the studios tapped a major talent from the world of animation, Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley.

Hasbro’s eOne and Paramount are moving forward with a project described as a big-scale Transformers animated prequel feature designed for theatrical release, according to Deadline. The story will be set on Cybertron, the planet from which the gigantic protean automatons originated, set several years before the main story, focusing on the early relationship between altruistic Autobot leader Optimus Prime and malevolent Decepticon leader Megatron. Thus, the movie could provide some key context when it comes to the motivations for the eventual ongoing conflict—conveniently moved to our Earth—of the two warring sides.

Director Josh Cooley was quietly hired for the project, set to work off a script by the duo of Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari, who worked on the script to 2018 Marvel movie sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp. Of course, Cooley comes into this project with notable feathers in his cap from his first feature, 2019’s Toy Story 4, which yielded him a shared Oscar win for Best Animated Feature Film, and a worldwide box office gross of $1 billion. Before that, he directed a few shorts for Disney-Pixar, 2015’s Inside Out short, Riley’s First Date?, and 2009’s George and A.J.  

Consequently, the untitled animated prequel should carry some serious weight in the canon of the film franchise, which, back in January, commenced a serious behind-the-scenes revamping process by Paramount based off the successful strategy of 2018 solo spinoff film Bumblebee. That film—while still carrying all the ostentatious Autobot bells and whistles indicative of the franchise—took shape as a more-focused, somewhat lower-budgeted affair that managed to give the studio a bigger bang for its buck than the later entries of the explosive, but long-in-the-tooth movie series from director Michael Bay. Indeed, the new approach is expected to cement staying power with substance, complemented by a necessary—but not quite excessive—amount of style, keeping the motion picture platform pump primed for Hasbro’s perennially-pushed Transformers toy line.

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In addition to fleshing out the newly-codified cinematic mythos, the animated prequel will also eventually complement a backlog of Transformers film projects that—in the wake of the aforementioned franchise revamp—consists of two developing mystery movie projects from screenwriters James Vanderbilt (Independence Day: Resurgence, The Amazing Spider-Man) and Joby Harold (Army of the Dead, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword), respectively.

With the inevitable breakdown of a presumed friendship between Optimus and Megatron at its center, Transformers fans have a lot to look forward to when it comes to this prequel project.