Geek Exclusive – ‘Rise of the Beasts’ Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura Teases Future of ‘Transformers’ Franchise 

One good thing about developing a sequel to a long running movie franchise is establishing the lore, and building on it. On the other hand, story tellers are also bound by established narrative parameters, which is what makes Transformers: Rise of the Beasts unique – it can do both.

Make no mistake – the seventh film in the massive Transformers film series is both a sequel and a prequel in the grand scheme of things. While it’s 1994 setting predates the 2007 timeline established in the original Transformers film that saw the Autobots and Decepticons jump from animated to live-action, it also serves as a sequel to 2018’s Bumblebee, which took place in 1987.


“It’s a sequel, to Bumblebee because sequentially, Bumblebee’s 1987, and this is 1994 and the first one was 2007. So we really look at it as a pretty continuous timeline,” affirmed a cheeky Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who has produced every Transformers film to date, and makes one thing very clear – Rise of the Beasts is a sequel to the original, and not a franchise reboot. 

“And one of the advantages of doing 1994 is you don’t have to live with every decision we made in the earlier movies.”

And for fans who grew up with the 80s’ animated series that saw the heroic Optimus Prime battle the evil Megatron, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will bring about more waves of nostalgia that some of the previous sequels, in which some were better than others, lacked.

The film will mark the live-action debut of the Maximals from the Transformers: Beast Wars animated series that introduced robots that could change into animals, and just a month ago, audiences caught sight of the legendary Unicron in the movie trailer. The gigantic villain was first introduced in 1986’s Transformers: The Movie.

So yes, it’s safe to say that di Bonaventura’s career across seven Transformers films following the five Michael Bay-directed films and Travis Knight’s beloved Bumblebee, is one built around toys and kids, but the journey had been an unexpected one for the 66-year-old producer who started his career at Warner Brothers shepherding The Matrix films, and famously secured the film rights to the Harry Potter books by author J. K. Rowling.

“It was unexpected. First of all, when you set out to make a movie, you don’t think this is now going to be what is. We started 19 years ago, we started the development, so I don’t think you could possibly think that’s what’s going to happen,” shared Bonaventura in an exclusive interview with Geek Culture. 

“But what has been really exciting is really the participation of the audience with these movies. I mean, these are audience movies, and so to experience their laughter and their joy and their awes and ‘Oh, my God, look at that!’ – that’s really fun and it keeps you energized as a filmmaker.” 

Making Rise of the Beasts was also marked the first time he’s worked with director Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II) and this time around, there is a stronger emphasis on fleshing out the personalities of the various human and robot characters in the story.Where audiences are likely familiar with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee from the previous Bayformers movies, this marks many people’s first time getting to know Arcee, Mirage, Airazor and Optimus Primal in live-action.


The movie also introduces two new key human characters – former military electronics expert Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) and artifact researcher Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback), who join the Autobots and Maximals in their fight against Scourge and the Terracons.

Plus, a new movie means the filmmaker gets to travel to new and exotic locations. In previous movies, Transformers has made places like Hong Kong and Egypt their set. This time around, the cast and crew were taken to Macchu Pichu in Peru. 

“Now, what makes this movie so special? It’s an interesting question because it’s like ‘Why is the audience love it so much?’ I think the answer is the same. Many of us put a personality on our cars and I think there’s just something fundamentally joyful about that,” shared a smiley Bonaventura. 

“But I also think it really is a kind of thing where your imagination is allowed to go in areas where it’s just ‘Alright, let’s go to Machu Picchu’ and guess what, they’ve [the Maximals] have been there for thousands of years! So that’s really fun.”


What’s fun is also finally seeing an idea first mooted years ago – of bringing G. I. Joe, another toy-turned-movie franchise, together with the Transformers – for the first time in live-action. Not surprisingly, di Bonaventura also produced all three G.I. Joe live action films, albeit to lesser success compared to the Transformers.

At the end of the film, Diaz returns to Brooklyn, New York (Anthony Ramos) after battling alongside the Maximals and Autobots against the Terracons in Peru, and finds himself in a secret lair of all the American heroes, G.I. Joe.

While the ending doesn’t show any of the Joes fans know, this has been a long time coming but in earlier films, there was no good reason to involve the Joes and this time, Bonaventura says that it was director Steven Caple Jr. who came into production with the crossover already in mind, and all the duo had to do was figure out how the Joes would come to know of the existence of the robots in disguise.

“Well, he (Caple Jr.) very early on brought up GI Joe and my reaction was ‘Listen, we’ve thought about it a lot. I’m very open. What do you, how do you think it works?’ and he wasn’t sure at that time. So what happened was, we kept coming back to GI Joe and going like, ‘Why? Why would they know?’,” explained Bonaventura. 

“Part of what we’ve tried to do in every Transformers is no one’s supposed to know they were here – other than the fourth or fifth one where they do know. So we went back to that where nobody’s supposed to know this has happened so why would any organization know? And actually, what was cool about it, we certainly went, ‘Well because they’re G.I. Joe, they would know!’ You know what I mean? Which isn’t entirely logical, but it’s emotionally logical that this top secret thing would somehow know.” 

And knowing is half the battle.


Bonaventura is excited for fans to catch the ending and for them to look forward to more movies, though, he can’t quite share his plans for them yet. As of now, Bonaventura wants to leave it up to imagination as to what future Transformers movies might entail. 

“We don’t know. That’s what’s fun! I imagined G.I. Joe will play a big part, do we know? No. I imagine that several of the beasts will come along with us. You know, the hardest part, I think in a way is because there’s such an abundance of riches, if you put too much in, the audience doesn’t know where to invest so we have to keep the number of characters to a certain number,” said the producer. 

“Even in this, we spent a lot of time with Optimus Primal and Airazor and not so much with Cheetor and Rhinox, because you just don’t have the room for it. So, creatively what’s so exciting is we have some ideas for sure but which ones will win? We don’t know.”