The franchise having earned more than $1.5 billion worldwide since Michael Bay’s original “Transformers” blitzed theaters in 2007, it’s only natural to assume that the director, his backers at Paramount, and Hasbro, the toy makers who churn out a lucrative line of movie-inspired action figures, would already be planning an endless round of sequels, spin-offs and promotional tie-ins.
Not so, says Kevin Dunn, who reprises his role as Shia LaBeouf’s doting dad in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” opening Tuesday.
Although Dunn concedes that money could dictate future forays into the “Transformers” universe, where ornery Decepticons and noble Autobots have twice played out their longstanding feud on human turf, Bay’s latest seems like a fitting swan song.
“Michael always intended to make three movies,” says Dunn, 55, who will star opposite Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte in the mixed martial arts drama “Warrior,” coming in September.
“I guess he could change his mind, or Hasbro could try to keep the franchise going with new characters. But I don’t see [LaBeouf’s character] Sam Witwicky sticking around. ‘Dark of the Moon’ is very closed-ended.”
Despite the natural anticipation that accompanies a summer tentpole like “Transformers,” most of the early word-of-mouth has centered not on LaBeouf, Dunn or even cast newcomers Patrick Dempsey, the ubiquitous Ken Jeong (“The Hangover Part II”) and John Malkovich.
Instead, the buzz since 2009 has focused on ousted star Megan Fox, who likened Bay to Hitler before losing her gig as LaBeouf’s on-screen babe. Dunn chuckles when reminded of the comparison, diplomatically noting that Fox’s replacement, one-time Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, is “very believable.”
That said, he doesn’t argue that Bay, a filmmaker best known for pyrotechnics-heavy adventures such as 1998’s “Armageddon,” doesn’t hesitate to assert himself once he’s in his element, sometimes shooting multiple scenes at once and keeping his actors busy.
“Michael is a real auteur in terms of his knowledge of filmmaking,” Dunn says. “He’s hands-on, he designs cameras, and he’s always on the cutting edge of technology. With all this CGI stuff, at my age, sometimes my eyes glaze over. But he knows how to make these ‘Transformers’ movies look real, and he hits the ground running. He keeps us running with him.”
On Fox’s firing, Dunn, who surprisingly describes her as “painfully shy,” stays mum. But he doesn’t feel her departure should pose any problem for fans. “Sam’s a young guy,” he says. “He lost the girl he loved, and now he’s found a new one. That’s the way life works most of the time.”
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand
Written by Ehren Kruger
Directed by Michael Bay
Running time 2 hours 34 minutes