Even Michael Bay seems to realize that Michael Bay has a Michael Bay problem: His work on the excerable "Transformers" films - which even HE doesn't seem to like - has made him a wealthy man (and has banked him considerable boxoffice clout) but it's also shifted his public image from being the crown prince of willfully-overblown "guy movie" excess to being just one more journeyman action-specialist working the branded-franchise assembly line; while upstarts like Zack Snyder, Timur Bekmambetov, Joe Carnahan and others have pushed into his territory.
For the last several years, Bay has been trying to get (his version of) a small, personal passion-project off the ground - a $25 Million (chicken feed for guys working at Bay's level) dark comedy called "Pain & Gain," based on a true story (recounted in the Miami New Times in 1999) of steroid-abusing bodybuilders who got wrapped up in a kidnapping/extortion/drugs clusterfuck. Bay returning to the bad-taste Miami-flavored sleaze of the Bad Boys movies for what sounds like "schlubs in over their heads" crime flick starring juiced-up gym rats? PERFECT combination. But he's had difficult securing a studio for the project thus far, even with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Mark Whalberg - two actors practically factory-designed for Michael Bay movies - attached to star.
But now Paramount has apparently stepped up to do the deed, with the contingency being that Bay has to take one more slog through the world of Autobots and Decepticons. When not even Michael Bay and two of the only consistently-bankable male action leads (both of whom are taking salary cuts to help keep the budget down!) can't get a $25 Million flick made without agreeing to also do a summer-tentpole/toy-commercial; it's clear that license-mania has grown out of control.
This all got announced waaaay earlier than Paramount wanted, when infamous producer Lorenzo Di Bonnaventura got in front of an MTV mic at ToyFair and said Bay was coming back for a Transformers "reboot" - by which he (apparently) means that the robot characters will be segueing into a new storyline featuring new human characters, as none of the original (non-CGI) cast has signed on to return. That's probably why twisting Bay's arm to keep him on was so important to them - his continued presence as director will be the only thing keeping this from looking like a "B-Team" sequel.
It feels almost surreal that we'll actually be enduring another of these things, after all the build-up of #3 being the big finale. But I do really want to see "Pain & Gain."