Travis Knight, who has directed quietly powerful indies like Kubo and the Two Strings, will helm the upcoming Transformers spinoff Bumblebee, Deadline reports. Knight is the founder and CEO of the relatively small Portland-based animation studio Laika, so his decision to get behind a big-budget film is a bit unusual.
In an interview with The Verge last year, Knight seemed to take pride in his relatively bare-bones operation. Speaking about Kubo, Knight said, "The entire film is filled with all different kinds of imperfections and failings, and it's always something you have to come to terms with. Sometimes it's maddening to work in this medium, because of the imperfections. But that's one of the things that makes it inherently beautiful. We really embrace that side of it, because it makes these films human.”
Bumblebee, produced by Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg, will have a much bigger budget and will presumably look a lot slicker than any of Knight’s past projects. The budgets for the previous four Transformers movies, including Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon, and Age of Extinction, have been in the $150 to $210 million range.
The move also raises small questions about Laika’s future. Knight has said he wants Laika to produce one feature a year, but that goal could change if Knight decides he has bigger blockbusters to fry.