The Transformers franchise has been around since the first cartoons and toys burst onto the scene in 1984. Since that time, the concept of transforming robots battling it out has captured the hearts and imaginations of generations of children, and the franchise has expanded exponentially, to include a whole series of films and television series, action figures, video games and an array of branded merchandise.
In recent years, there have been a new Transformers movie released on average every couple of years. While box office figures in the US have steadily fallen and western reviews have been sceptical, the franchise is still going strong, and there is nothing to suggest there will not be another several Transformers movies made. While US audiences may be weary of the Transformers, other areas of the world are most definitely not. Areas such as China, South America and India are still hot for the Transformers and have generated box office revenues of a volume not to be sniffed at.
Despite tepid reception from US audiences, the Transformers franchise is going from strength to strength on the global platform. Not only do the movies perform well in other countries, but a series of spin-off merchandise is drawing in more revenue. There have been multiple Transformers video games released since the 1980s across a variety of platforms, including PC, console, handheld, mobile and arcade genres. In keeping with the upsurge in online casino gaming, there is even a Transformers slot game – you can find a full review here. Modern followers of the Autobots can play Transformer games on their PlayStation, Xbox, Wii or PC, while retro gamers have the option of choosing their favourite characters for the N64, Commodore 64 or even the ZX Spectrum.
Transformers captured the imagination of a generation back in the early 1980s and has continued to enthral and entertain legions of children and adults ever since. The idea for Transformers was not unique; but taken from the Japanese line of Diaclone toys launched in 1980 by Takara Toys. Hasbro licensed the idea of the car-robot hybrid from Takara, along with the “micro-man” line, and released a series of transforming toys in conjunction with a comic book series in partnership with Marvel.
Televised cartoons were soon to follow, as were millions of children whose hearts were captured by the fight between good and evil personified by the Autobots and the Decepticons. The love felt for the transformers by children everywhere was tested in 1986, with the release of the first ever film, Transformers: The Movie. The cartoon adventure featured the epic battles children already knew and loved Transformers for, but many thousands of children were left devastated when Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, was (SPOILER) killed off towards the end of the movie.
Fortunately for future generations of children, Optimus Prime was reinstated in new iterations of the Transformers. The first non-cartoon movie version of transformers was released in 2007 and was an instant success. The film was a combination of live-action and computer animation, and grossed $709.9 million at the box office, making it the fifth—highest grossing film of the year. While the critics gave mixed reviews, the film won several awards and the revenue spoke for itself – Hollywood immediately launched plans to develop a series of live-action movies. The reprisal of the character of Optimus Prime was at least partially credited for the popularity of the film among adults, many of whom would have loved the character from their own childhoods.
The latest live-action Transformers movie to be released was Bumblebee in 2018, which works as a prequel to the previous five movies. Bumblebee is set in the 1980s, going back not only to the origins of the protagonist but also of the audience. The film was bound to encourage feelings of nostalgia and was designed, in the words of Hasbro, to “bring the fun back” to the Transformers brand. That brand has been loved by many over the years but has been equally slated for being what some say is essentially one big marketing and merchandising ploy. Certainly the Transformers franchise has generated a huge amount of revenue for Hasbro over the years, and this includes not only international box office revenue but income streams from games, t-shirts, toys, mugs, phone cases, lunch boxes, bags and all manner of other items branded with Transformers.
The box office success of the movies, which may not be as apparent in the United States, is till huge in other areas of the world. China in particular has a great love for Transformers movies and typically generates more than half of the total international revenue for each new release. Spin-off comics, cartoons, action figures and more all help Transformers to stay in the imaginations of children and adults the world over. Despite what many critics say, the fact remains that people love the Transformers, as international box office and merchandise revenues stand testament to, so it seems like Hollywood would be best advised to continue making movies for quite some time to come.