After five features with Michael Bay directing big freaking robots and increasingly over-the-top stories, Paramount takes its Transformers franchise in a new direction with Bumblebee, which bows Friday.
With director Travis Knight now at the helm, the solo outing of one of the franchise’s most popular characters shifts the action back a few decades to the mid-1980s. After Bumblebee arrives on Earth on a mission from Optimus Prime, he encounters Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), who helps him evade the dangers posed by Decepticons sent after him and the U.S. military unit, headed by Agent Burns (John Cena), that they’ve tricked into viewing Bumblebee as a threat.
To sell the movie, Paramount has focused not only on the story of the bond between Charlie and Bumblebee but also on how, unlike the previous efforts, this one features the classic ’80s looks of the Robots in Disguise. Here’s how the campaign was rolled out.
Charlie and Bumblebee are seen looking out at the sunset on the teaser poster, indicating that the studio will be touting this as a relationship story as much as, if not more than, a large-scale action movie.
A poster released at San Diego Comic-Con showed Bumblebee both in robot and VW mode. Another that came out a bit later showed Bee kneeling down by Charlie, giving off a distinct Iron Giant vibe many people picked up on.
The theatrical one-sheet has all three main characters — Bee, Charlie and Agent Burns — looking out into the middle distance, a shot of Charlie and Bumblebee in car form standing on a ledge overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
That bridge, which helps establish the story’s physical setting, is also seen on the Dolby-specific poster. In addition to photos of Charlie and Bumblebee we see Agent Burns again, this time standing alongside his Decepticon conspirators, offering a better sense of the conflict that will drive part of the action. The Imax poster ditches the rest of the cast to just show our robot, not in disguise at the moment, standing heroically in the same Bay Area location.