The runaway commercial success of the Transformers series is set to continue with respected British director Mike Leigh taking over from previous director Michael Bay. The veteran arthouse director says he’s thrilled to have got the job and is said to be excited by the creative possibilities of the ongoing story of alien robots that can turn into firetrucks and have laser guns in their arms. But Leigh promises to make the films his own, speaking to Empire the 58 year old Mancunian said: “If you hire me, you’re hiring an auteur, I’m not going to make just another action film. This film will still have my values: it’ll have a real message, a moral and political dimension.”
Possibly less of this
Industry analysts have been unsurprised by Leigh being singled out from a number of prospective directors who were vying for the lucrative job; directors like Charlie’s Angels’ McG, Dutch provocateur Lars Von Trier and visionary 300 director Zack Snyder. Since Jason Statham was cast as the film’s next human lead it was rumoured that the film was looking to move into a more gritty and British re-imagining.
Another deciding factor may have been Michael Bay’s long, public love for Leigh’s work. Bay, who has stepped aside as the main creative force to film an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s The Eternal Husband starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence is still acting as producer on Leigh’s film, tentatively titled Transformers: Impotent Melancholy.
To be replaced by introspection and maybe a sly critique of Tory policy
“I’ve always respected Mike,” says Bay, “he’s had such a huge impact on me personally and my art. Looking back on my work I’m ashamed at how much I’ve ripped off of the man. Or should I call it homage?” he laughs, “After all, what is Bad Boys 2 but an amped up, action version of Vera Drake? Having him on the next film just makes sense.”
Leigh is keeping tight lipped about the plot but details have leaked to the internet that the story revolves around Autobot leader Optimus Prime dealing with the end of his war on the Decepticons. Moving to Scunthorpe, Optimus settles down with Marge Ploddly (Pauline Quirke) but his emotional unavailability, post traumatic stress and her secret affair with chip shop owner and dog fighting enthusiast Phil (Timothy Spall) threatens to rip their marriage apart.
Filming begins in February 2012 in a studio that used to be a steel mill in Leeds. A casting call has been placed for ‘grim looking northern’ extras from the area.
Senior Features Correspondent