Michael Bay, the much-maligned but oh-so profitable director of the first three installments, was publicly reluctant to commit to Dark of the Moon and vowed that it would be his last Autobot adventure. He's been keen on making his next project Pain & Gain, a dark action-comedy tonally inspired by Pulp Fiction and telling a true story of competitive bodybuilding, kidnapping, and blackmail. That film, Bay's first in fifteen years with a budget under $100 million, will begin production in April, probably with Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson starring.
In October, Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner suggested that executive producer Steven Spielberg and Bay were in talks to return for a fourth and fifth Transformers. Bay promptly denied the suggestion, but didn't completely rule out the possibility of a return to the series.
Now, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura is saying that the tentative plan is to have robots in disguise pew-pew-pewing onscreen in two years. "We’ll be there in the summer of 2014," he told Coming Soon. He was unclear as to Bay's involvement, though, saying, "Michael had a debate because he sort of felt at first that he'd done three. Michael and I are both the same in that we always like to top ourselves. That doesn't necessarily mean bigger. It can be bigger in places, it just means different, but we're going to push really hard as fresh and new as we can be."
Insomuch as the past three Transformers have a human face, it has been Shia LaBeouf, but he definitely won't be back for a third sequel. So where does the franchise go from here, then? The producer, who is currently working on G.I. Joe: Retaliation, suggests that this will take that film's approach, dodging a full reboot. He explained, "Again, we're going to try to do a hybrid there where there will be some characters that come forward--we think, we're still in the process of figuring it out--and some characters that don't, but it will definitely be a different story."