Ready For Transformers 4 AND 5?

UPDATE: Bay says he's not involved!

Update: Michael Bay has hit his blog to play down rumours that he's in talks to return to the franchise. "I am currently not talking to Paramount on T4 and T5 despite reports. I'm looking at a lot of possibilities coming my way right now weighing options. Most likely going to be doing the low budget Pain And Gain, a true story crime thriller. It's a very quick shoot and quite funny. Also just finishing the 3 disc set of the Transformer trilogy." So there you have it. At least, for now...

Given how much money the Transformers franchise has made to date, there was no way toy company Hasbro and film partners Paramount were going to stop serving up juicy steaks made from that cash cow. And now, during an otherwise dull-as-ditchwater earnings conference call, the Hasbro brass has confirmed what we all knew already: that everyone involved is considering options for future Transformer outings. But the actual news is that the next step might be to go all Matrix/Pirates and shoot two new outings back to back.

According to Variety, the companies are in “active” discussions (we like to think that means they get together and talk while completing an obstacle course, but that would be way too much fun) with Steven Spielberg and director Michael Bay about new films.

Bay, of course, has said in the past that he’d like to step away from the series to focus on other projects. But he’s usually been tempted to return by A) dump trucks of money backed up to his house (he’s not made of stone!) and B) the chance to play with new filmmaking toys (even ones he wasn’t sure of before, like 3D). And though he seems to be committed this time to getting back to non-robotic Bayhem, such as bodybuilding pic Pain And Gain, there’s a chance he’ll be back.

One person who likely won’t return however, is Shia LaBeouf, who appears emphatic that he’s moved on to other things. Which is less of a problem for the studio, since we all know the punters show up for Optimus Prime and co anyway. Who could replace him? Rumours keep swirling about Jason Statham (who would definitely be a big change), but that's all they are for now.

What Paramount does have is a story idea cooked up by Dark Of The Moon writer Ehren Kruger, which the executives are apparently happy with. It remains to be seen whether the two-TF film plan works out and if Bay actually does sit in the director’s chair, particularly if he has to make two movies at once.

In related Hasbro property news, the company has made a deal with Zombieland writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese to work on turning Micronauts into a movie.

Micronauts, in case you’ve never heard of them, originated as a successful but ultimately short-lived toy line known as Microman in Japan. A series of robots and vehicles with interchangeable parts, they’re more based around inner space than giant machines fighting.

Deadline reports that JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot company is partnering with Paramount to develop the movie, but there are no other details yet. It’s not Wernick and Reese’s first Paramount project: they also wrote the script for GI Joe 2: Retaliation

And talking of Zombieland (it's a three-link story! Somewhere an angel is getting drunk at a bar!), it would appear that Sony really is going in another direction with any possible follow-up as the studio’s TV division and the Fox network are now developing a comedy series based on the movie, which Wernick and Reese would write.

Interestingly, the duo originally planned the concept as a TV show, so they’ve already got a few ideas worked out. Producer Gavin Polone tells the Hollywood Reporter that if the series gets the greenlight, it’ll replace any plan to make a sequel film. It’s surely no coincidence that current hot zombie show The Walking Dead has returned to record ratings…