Bay and Wahlberg roll out of Transformers franchise
Transformers: The Last Knight is final one in franchise for director Michael Bay and star Mark Wahlberg
It is the end of an era.
Having directed five Transformers films over a decade, Michael Bay is ready to roll out and leave the series behind.
While the franchise has had its share of brickbats, there is no denying the 52-year-old's role in transforming the cartoon series about the honourable Autobots and the malevolent Decepticons into a blockbuster movie franchise.
Bay's last film in the franchise is Transformers: The Last Knight (TLK), which opens here tomorrow.
Speaking to The New Paper on the red carpet of TLK's global premiere at Cineworld Empire Theatre at Leicester Square in London on Sunday, the US film-maker said he "loved shooting it" and "it was a fun one to do".
And it shows.
The movie features all the hallmarks of a Bay flick - who else can start a movie with a massive pitched battle filled with explosions interspersed with some characterisation and humour from its cast?
In TLK, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is sent on a quest with Oxford professor Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) by Sir Edmund Burton (Sir Anthony Hopkins) to uncover a secret handed down since the time of King Arthur to stop the destruction of Earth by forces led by a corrupted Optimus Prime.
A spin-off movie featuring the Autobot Bumblebee is in the works, and film studio Paramount and Hasbro, the toy company that owns the Transformers brand, have confirmed that a sixth instalment will be released in 2019.
But is this really the last we have seen of Bay, who has U-turned on quitting twice to make the fourth instalment Transformers: Age Of Extinction and TLK?
Said Wahlberg, who reprises his role as Cade from the fourth movie: "Michael created this entire universe, so for him to give the helm to somebody else, I think it is going to be difficult.
"He is a bit of a control freak. But these movies are also extremely difficult to make, and Michael has a lot of other things that he likes to do. So, we'll see.
"I learn so much when I work with him every time and I'm learning something new every time, so I hope I get to work again with him real soon."
Michael created this entire universe, so for him to give the helm to somebody else, I think it is going to be difficult.Mark Wahlberg on director Michael Bay leaving the transformers franchise
US actor Josh Duhamel, who played William Lennox in the first three films (Transformers, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen and Transformers: Dark Side Of The Moon) and returns in TLK, thought otherwise.
When asked if he believed Bay was done with the series, the 44-year-old said: "I think so. Never say never, but I think he is done with it. He has put everything that he has into it and I think he is probably ready to try some other things."
Bay is not the only one heading for the exit. Wahlberg also announced that TLK is going to be his last Transformers outing.
The 46-year-old told TNP that he has "a lot of other things going on" and if he never sees "a harness and wires again in my life, I am okay with that".
However, the Bostonian did leave the door ajar for a return as Cade -on one condition.
Said Wahlberg: "Only if Michael comes back - it is a package deal."
One of TLK's biggest stars is Hopkins, and the Oscar-winning Welsh actor brought his experience and class to the film.
Wahlberg said working with the 79-year-old was the best thing about his TLK experience.
He said: "The scenes where we meet Anthony and Laura, and us being thrust together and sent on this journey - those were the fun moments.
"Anthony had a lot of fun. It was great because everybody else drew from his excitement and energy.
"We have been on it for a long time, and then Anthony came along and freshened things up - being really excited and having fun, and that kind of put a smile on all of our faces."
While it has been six years since his last outing with the giant robots, Duhamel said slipping back into army fatigues felt almost like second nature.
Recalling a scene where he makes a deal with Decepticon leader Megatron on a dry lake bed, he said: "That was the first thing we shot and it felt normal because I was there with all the same guys who I shot the first three movies with...
"I was just excited to get back in to the battle of it all.
"There is something about the intensity of those battles that we shoot that you cannot find anywhere else. It is about as alive as you'll ever feel...
"And that is what I missed the most."