EXCLUSIVE: Ken Nolan and Geneva Robertson-Dworet have been set to join the group of writers who, starting Monday, will gather in an office on the Paramount lot to hatch the next iterations of the billion-dollar Transformers franchise. Nolan is best known for Black Hawk Down and Fox recently acquired his spec adaptation of the Robert Littell Cold War novel Defection, this after Nolan turned his novel The Company into a limited TNT series. Robertson-Dworet, who co-wrote the Black List script Hibernation, is writing a space thriller for Roland Emmerich that will be directed by his longtime DP Anna Foerster. She is also teamed with Will Frank on a sci-fi action thriller for Jerry Bruckheimer and a psychological thriller for Bad Robot that’s produced by The Imitation Game‘s Ido Ostrowsky and Nora Grossman.
Those scribes join Christina Hodson and Lindsey Beer, Ant-Man scribes Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari, the recent additions, and original members Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Iron Man scribes Art Marcum & Matt Holloway, Pacific Rim 2‘s Zak Penn and Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Lost’s Jeff Pinkner. So what exactly is this brain trust going to do? Deadline got some answers from Akiva Goldsman, who is heading up the writers room for Paramount, Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian, and Hasbro’s Brian Goldner.
Goldsman said the intention was to replicate the great writers rooms used in hatching TV shows. “There is such reciprocity between TV and movies now, that we’re borrowing this from TV,” Goldsman said. “I got a taste of this from JJ Abrams when I came in to write an episode of Fringe, and then Jeff Pinkner let me hang around for four years like the drunk uncle. The whole process of the story room was really delightful, and we are seeing it more in movies as this moves toward serialized storytelling. There are good rooms around town, including the Monsters Room at Universal, the Star Wars room, and of course, at Marvel. We’re trying to beg, borrow and steal from the best of them, and gathered a group of folks interested in developing and broadening this franchise. There is a central corridor of movies that has been proceeding quite well, but our challenge will be to answer, where do we go from here?”
When they start Monday, Goldsman and the writers will immerse themselves in everything that has been crafted by Hasbro to create what Goldsman said is a deep mythology. “We’ve got a work space that is beautifully production designed to be immersive with a strong sense of the franchise history,” he said. “We will look at the toys, the TV shows, the merchandise, everything that has been generated by Hasbro, from popular to forgotten iterations, and establish a mythological time line. It has been designed with a lot of visual help, toys, robots, sketches and writers and artists. After that super saturation, the writers will figure out not one, but numerous films that will extend the universe.”
Since 2014’s Transformers: Age Of Extinction turned in the franchise’s second-highest global gross with $1.1 billion (it topped Deadline’s analysis of most profitable 2014 blockbusters), the first priority will be to figure out the next sequel and have something scripted and ready by the time Bay completes 13 Hours, the Benghazi siege drama that he’s directing for Paramount. All of the writers will come away with this exercise with a movie treatment to write, including Goldsman. Those writers will then have first crack at writing the scripts for treatment that meet the approval of Paramount, Bay, Spielberg, Hasbro and the producers.
“If one of the writers discovers an affinity for Beast Wars, they can drive forward on treatments that will have been fleshed out by the whole room,” Goldsman said.
Since he’s got an Oscar on his shelf and numerous projects that include the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower that’s regained steam as Nikolaj Arcel is being signed to direct by Sony and MRC, I asked Goldsman why he sparked to running the writers room, and scripting one of the Transformers sequels, spinoffs and prequels.
“It just felt like such fertile ground and a rich environment for storytelling, and there has already been thoughtful work done long before any of us came into the room,” Goldsman said. “We will be innovative miners, and we will have fun and get to do what we imagined this was all about when we were kids.”
Nolan is repped by CAA and Kaplan/Perrone; Robertson-Dworet is repped by WME, Management 360 and Hansen Jacobson Teller.