It's just like the line in Godfather III: as soon as he thought he was out, they're pulling him back in.
Yes, director Michael Bay wants to move in a new direction after the Transformers series with a dark, low-budget comedy. But even Steven Spielberg said he should come back and do a fourth Transformers film. What's a guy to do?
During a recent Entertainment Weekly interview, Steven Spielberg went on record as saying: "I certainly can't imagine anybody other than Michael being equipped to make another Transformers. He's invented a genre, and he's got the secret formula."
Who knows if Bay read Speilebrg's words, but now Collider and Vulture are reporting that Pain and Gain, the smaller film Bay wants to make, is the bargaining chip in all this. Essentially, Bay is saying, commit to Transformers 4 and Paramount will greenlight Pain and Gain. (As a recent report in GQ noted, Christopher Nolan went through a similar situation where Warner Brothers agreed to make an original story, Inception, if he shot another Batman movie.)
If all this goes through, Pain and Gain will shoot in early spring, while Transformers 4 may start rolling as early as next winter.
According to Variety, casting is already shaping up on Pain and Gain, which has been described as a Pulp Fiction-esque dark comedy with a $20 million budget about gym rats up to no good. Dwayne "The Rock" Nelson and Mark Wahlberg are both reportedly eyeing the lead musclehead roles.
Variety reports that because Pain and Gain is a smaller film, Nelson can fit it into his schedule before making the next two Fast and Furious flicks back to back. As we've previously reported on TG, this has been a passion project for Bay for almost a decade now.
With Pain and the next Transformers, Bay could theoretically have his feet in both the smaller cinema world and the big time blockbuster leagues, all while making the studios happy. (Like the attitude was back in the 70's among Coppola and Lucas when they made bigger movies hoping to fund their smaller visions, one for you, one for them).
Once the rumors started reaching the 'Net about Transformers 4, Bay responded on his website, "Studio's [sic] are passing rumors but I'm not sure what I'm doing. Right now I'm going to do Pain and Gain early spring but that's it for right now. I'm leaving all my options on the table. I've got several studio [sic] meetings in the next two weeks."