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TRANSFORMERS

The History
"I've been one of the biggest fans of Transformers™ since they first came out,” says executive producer Steven Spielberg. "I'm not talking about buying the toys for my kids. I'm talking about reading the comic books and buying the toys for myself. I'd play with them at home with my kids, but I'm the one who was enthralled with them,” he recalls. "I was a collector and I always thought the Hasbro toy line would one day ‘transform' into a big summer movie.”

Spielberg was not the only one to think so; several of the film's producers had the same impulse. While producer and former studio executive Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Hasbro COO Brian Goldner were talking about possible movies ideas for Transformers™ and other Hasbro franchises, Tom DeSanto was approaching Don Murphy to form a partnership in hopes of making his own Transformers™ project. When all was said and done, the core creative force behind the film is a virtual who's who of Hollywood producing royalty: Steven Spielberg, director Michael Bay, di Bonaventura ("Shooter”), DeSanto (the "X-Men” series), Murphy ("Natural Born Killers”) and Ian Bryce ("Saving Private Ryan”).

From the get-go, all of the producers did their homework and knew that making a Transformers™ movie meant honoring a much beloved franchise backed by a strong base of devotees, many of whom had lifelong ties to the characters.

"Transformers™ has a rich, established history that inspired all of us,” says di Bonaventura. "It's no wonder we each had the same brainstorm; each of us was attracted to its mythology.

"The hardest aspect of overcoming people's assumptions about robots – even the fans' – was that until we could show footage, no one could really understand what this particular movie is all about,” he says. "So we focused on the work at hand: developing a human story, finding the best cast and producing the most exciting effects we could. The rest would take care of itself.”

DeSanto swears that he's dreamt of making a movie about Transformers™ since he was a kid, but it didn't occur to his partner Murphy until years later as he was strolling through the Comic-Con convention in San Diego. "I was walking around, looking at a lot of properties and franchises, and all of a sudden it hit me,” Murphy says. "The kids of the ‘80s have grown up and now they probably want to see movies based on all this stuff around me, all their beloved characters and stories. Oh my God, this makes perfect sense.”

Murphy also knew that DeSanto, whom he'd met when the two worked together on "Apt Pupil,” was not only a huge fan of the toy franchise, he was a walking encyclopedia of comic book information. DeSanto, who owns over 35,000 comic books, called Murphy to partner on the project as Murphy had a previous relationship with Hasbro.

"Transformers™ was something I loved and cared about as a kid,” says DeSanto. "It's hard to get these movies made, so you better love what you do because otherwise you're in for a few dreary years trying to make the idea a reality.” "When DreamWorks told us that Steven loved the idea, I couldn't believe it,” DeSanto recalls. "As a kid from New Jersey, to hear that Steven Spielberg liked the same robots, I just thought, ‘how did I get here?' The rest is a dream; it's just been great.”

"Hasbro and Paramount were very excited about the process of putting another successful product into liveaction format,” di Bonaventura says, "and of course Transformers™ came up because its one of Hasbro's crown jewels and a brand Brian believes has great potential. "Brian is understandably protective of every franchise at the company,” di Bonaventura explains. "For that reason he wanted to be involved as a producer, an idea I readily embraced because Brian really knew the brand and has a lot to offer.”

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