Image Credit: AP

Love it or hate it, but chances are, you can’t really ignore the Transformers’ money-spinning franchise. Especially not with a fifth instalment ready to amass a steady stream of destruction across our screens this Eid.

Transformers: The Last Knight is the latest Michael Bay-directed summer film that producers Paramount Pictures hope will add to its $3.8 billion (Dh13.95 billion) box office tally across four films. But with four other features and an ever-changing star cast to its credit, what do we know about this latest Transformers? Gulf News tabloid! finds out.

 

1. Mark Wahlberg calls it quits

The 46-year-old actor is saving the world one last time in Transformers 5. Sorry Autobots, looks like you’re on your own after this little intergalactic adventure. While appearing on The Graham Norton Show, Wahlberg explained at length why he was leaving the franchise after his second movie.

“This is the last one. This is it — so I can get my life back!” the actor told the late night host. Wahlberg’s decision to leave Bumblebee and Co. also came down to several key superficial reasons. “The long hair is the worst thing ever,” he joked. We hear you. “I look like my mum in the ’70s — it’s just really bad!”

Wahlberg first appeared in Age of Extinction playing Cade Yaeger, an inventor who gets caught up in the fight between Autobots and Decepticons after stumbling upon Optimus Prime. Clearly, third isn’t the charm for him.

 

2. Michael Bay also hangs up his hat

Looks like Wahlberg isn’t the only one to say goodbye to the franchise. The franchise director also took his last bow, penning his thoughts in an emotional letter to his fans, which he posted on his official website earlier this year.

Bay wrote: “It’s bittersweet for me. With every Transformers film, I’ve said it would be my last. I see the 120 million fans around the world who see these movies, the huge theme park lines to the ride and the amazing Make- A-Wish kids who visit my sets, and it somehow keeps drawing me back… But, this time might really be it. So I’m blowing this one out.”

Quizzed later by the media and Bay didn’t change his tune, saying: “I’ve done it enough, and I’ve had a great time doing it. I’m going out with a bang on this one, and I feel like you gotta [sic] go out while you’re ahead, you know. I think I’ve had a good run, and I’ve got a lot of other movies I want to do.”

 

3. But wait, is this the end of the Transformers franchise?

Not quite. So Wally here is chopping off his luscious locks and Bay is moving on to greener pastures, but that doesn’t spell the demise of the $3.8 billion Hasbro money-spinning franchise. Paramount Pictures has already announced a Bumblebee spin-off that will be se in the 1980s; a prequel of sorts if you will. To set the premise of this spin-off, it is being said that everyone’s sassy Autobot will have a meaty role in Transformers 5 to set him up to be a star of his own rodeo next year.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey said: “We will make the first movie with Michael [Bay] and go right into a Bumblebee movie, which will be at a lower cost.”

This is slated for a June 8, 2018 release, where it could clash with the Legendary Godzilla sequel. Oh, and a sixth film has also been announced, in case you thought this was it. This last adventure (one can only hope) is set for a June 28, 2019 release.

 

4. Transformers 5 packs a whopping runtime of three hours

With Autobot leader Optimus Prime turning rogue and Bumblebee packing new powers, the rumour mill went into overdrive when a Google search for the film’s latest outing threw up a runtime clocking three hours. This time, several fans said, director Bay had outdone himself.

For those following the Transformers franchise, all of Bay’s films have tested the average Hollywood runtime, clocking over two hours and 20 minutes at least. The fourth instalment tried the patience of the franchise’s even most ardent fans, with a runtime of two hours and 45 minutes. Could the Transformers: The Last Knight break down all barriers of bladder-holding endurance?

Director Bay finally took to Twitter himself to clear up the whole mess, tweeting: “Reports of #Transformers The Last Knight being over 3hrs is wrong. It’s shorter than the last 3 movies by a lot. [sic]” Phew!

 

5. So who is returning for this final chapter?

The question that is one everyone’s mind is whether Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox are returning for cameos in this last Bay-directed instalment. As far as rumour mills go, LaBeouf is definitely sitting this one out. But the answer may not be a clear cut one where Fox is concerned.

Bay and Fox share a tumultuous history, with the actress shocking many in 2009 when she compared the director to Hitler, drawing light to his tyrannical way of helming a film. Fox’s statement reportedly drew the wrath of Bay and the film studios and media reports indicated that Steven Spielberg stepped in and insisted the actress gets the axe.

However, the feud finally drew to and end when Fox was roped in to play the fearless reporter April O’Neil in the Bay-produced franchise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The actress later went on to tell media that her former mentor was instrumental in getting her this part.

During this time, Fox was asked whether she would be willing to be part of Transformers 5, and she said: “If [Bay] ever wanted me to do a cameo like assembling an Autobot motorcycle in a bike shop or something like that, I would totally do it.” We are holding our breath.