A look at the evolution of Bumblebee in the Transformers movie franchise
DETROIT – A Chevrolet Camaro that converts into the iconic Bumblebee returns to the big screen in Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction” in theaters June 27.
“In all the Transformers films, Chevrolet vehicles get to play the heroes,” said Tim Mahoney, chief marketing officer, Global Chevrolet. “These movies have helped us get our vehicles in front of a younger audience around the world.”
This is the Camaro’s fourth appearance in a Transformers film. The first three movies helped propel Camaro to sales leadership in its segment for the past four years.
“Being a part of the Transformers franchise is an incredible way to showcase the design work of which GM is capable,” said Ed Welburn, vice president of GM Global Design. “The global series gets our cutting-edge designs in front of more potential customers than we could through traditional methods.”
In the first film of the series, Bumblebee goes through arguably his biggest change. The car starts off as a hand-me-down 1977 second-generation Camaro. The car is anything but flashy, with rust and primer spots, its famous yellow paint covered in patina.
Bumblebee eventually converts into a fifth-generation Camaro. However, this was in July 2007, two years before the Camaro would go on sale, so Chevrolet had to build a one-off running concept for the movie.
The vehicle used body panels made from the same molds that were used for the 2006 Camaro Concept, which was on the auto show circuit the year before. The body was fit to a chassis of a Holden Monaro to make it capable of performing in the film.
Its starring role in Transformers helped cement the fifth-generation Camaro as one of the coolest cars to come on the market in the following years.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
With Revenge of the Fallen coming out only a few months after the latest Camaro went on sale, the movie depicted a modified production version of the Camaro. The yellow Camaro sported the signature black rally stripes on the hood and trunk deck lid, a mailslot hood, and a custom front bumper.
For Dark of the Moon, Bumblebee was upgraded to the SS model with a subtle update to its color, sporting a more amber hue than the previous model’s pure yellow. The vehicle sported darker wheels and a new paint scheme that included wider rally stripes and black side mirrors.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
For the latest installment, Michael Bay asked the design team at GM to redesign Bumblebee to give him an updated look. With a specific focus on making him look more aggressive and muscular, the job was well suited to the North Hollywood Design Center.
The Center is just down the street from Paramount Pictures and as GM’s advanced design center, pens some of the most forward-looking designs to wear a bowtie badge.
The team designed a vehicle specifically for the movie with a new fascia and bulked up sides to create a leaner, meaner Bumblebee, with design cues that could put it years into the future.
But one Transformer can’t fight on his own, which is why the team was also tasked with designing an Allspark Green Tint Corvette Stingray to play Crosshairs and a Chevrolet Sonic rally car. Those vehicles will be joined by the Trax, which recently went on sale in China, and is set to go on sale in the U.S. early next year.
The movie makes extensive use of GM facilities as settings for the film. Scenes were filmed on Milford, Mich. Proving Ground, at the GM Design Center in Warren, Mich., including Welburn’s office and the Lansing, Mich., Delta Township Assembly Plant.
For example, at the Warren Technical Center, the production brought 200 people and 50 semi-trailers and filmed with minimal disruption to the work going on during the day.