Can ‘Transformers’ Pull Off Its Own Marvel-Style Universe?

It’s no surprise that Paramount is making the Transformers franchise such a high priority. While not exactly critical favorites, the films have proven to be hugely successful at the box office, grossing a whopping $3.8 billion worldwide. The most recent installment, Transformers: Age of Extinction, was itself a reboot of sorts, seeing a change in leads with Mark Wahlberg taking over for former star Shia LaBeouf. Though the movie received dismal reviews, it still went on to earn $1.1 billion worldwide and was the highest grossing film of 2014. With those kinds of earnings, it’s not hard to see why the studio sees potential to turn the series into a full-fledged cinematic universe – especially since Wahlberg has already made it clear he’s willing to stay on for at least a few more films.

The move comes just as studios are placing huge importance on launching and building tentpole franchises. In fact, there are several other studios, aside from Paramount, also attempting to replicate Marvel’s interconnected film formula with their own properties. Universal is planning a monsters-themed variation, starting with next year’s remake of The Mummy. Sony is currently working on both its Ghostbusters world (including Paul Feig’s much-discussed female-focused take and another male-oriented reboot) and a Robin Hood-themed universe. Meanwhile, Warner Brothers is continuing to push Batman through its DC Universe.

Whether or not this strategy will pay off for Paramount and the Transformers franchise remains to be seen. So far, the films have managed to stay hugely profitable, despite repeatedly awful critical reception. But an onslaught of future sequels begs the question: Will audiences keep showing up or will the studio’s plans only kick start a bad case of franchise fatigue?

Paramount is clearly willing to make a serious commitment to the franchise’s future, so we’ll have to stay tuned to see how it plays out. In the meantime, the next Transformers movie, again starring Wahlberg, is expected to hit theaters in summer 2016.

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