Upstart stop-motion animation studio Laika hasn’t been doing so hot as of late. Though such early efforts as Coraline and Paranorman generated healthy grosses, the box-office receipts have been in a steady decline with The Boxtrolls and last summer’s Kubo and the Two Strings. Though their films have been marvels to behold across the board, their expenditures have increased as they’ve expanded and invested in new technologies, and Kubo ended up as their first flop when it needed to be their biggest hit. In what might seem like the most dire sign of all for the studio, Kubo director and Laika President/CEO Travis Knight has now taken high-profile work elsewhere.

Deadline ran the exclusive last night that hot off two Oscar nominations for Kubo, Knight would make the jump to live-action as the director of a Transformers spinoff focused on the fan-favorite Bumblebee. Gunning for a 2018 release, Knight will shoot from a script by Christina Hodson, the writer responsible for last summer’s profoundly bad Naomi Watts horror thriller Shut In and credited on the upcoming bad-but-in-an-amazing-way Unforgettable. Those fearful that the series may lose some of its fundamental Michael Bay-ness in spinning off to a new director, have no fear — Bay will stay on as producer.

What this means for Laika will only be clarified in the months to come (though the outlook isn’t especially positive), but this is definitely good news for the Transformers franchise and its newly integrated verticals. Albeit with 3D-printed marionettes, Knight has demonstrated himself a deft orchestrator of elaborate action sequences, and it’ll be good to have someone with his visual panache at the helm.

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