’s no secret that Michael Bay’s Transformers is being seen by Paramount and friends as the opening salvo in the next big film franchise. So what’s next? No one’s making any sure plans until this film is released and the box office numbers come out (although judging by what I saw, what I have heard, and what I have read – including the script – the film will probably do very well. Especially if the trailer, due out at the holidays, kicks ass), but there’s thought that’s been put into it.

“I think everyone hopes for a sequel, but there’s a definite ending to this movie,” says producer Don Murphy, who shopped the project around town and was rejected by every studio for two years. “There’s an ending to this movie where our characters are established and some are alive, some are wounded, some are dead and some have fled and the battle rages on in the second one. Everyone is hoping there’s a Transformers ’09, but I don’t think we’re there yet.”

One name that kept coming up on the Transformers set visit was Soundwave – he’s not in the movie, but a number of people mentioned him as a favorite character. I would say that you can guarantee a Soundwave appearance in Transformers 2. Who else may show up, and what they may be doing, is sketchy. Most of the human actors have signed on for multiple pictures, but that’s standard practice, and doesn’t even guarantee they all make it through the film alive (although boy do I doubt any of the leads get offed).

Producer Tom DeSanto, a true blue nerd who also produced the X-Men movies, has thought about what will come next and where the story is heading, but he’s pretty cagey. “There is definitely, because of the mythology, an arc here, but I don’t want to tip the hat,” he said. “It’s like setting up Phoenix in X-Men 1.” DeSanto’s favorite answer to many questions seemed to be, “You’ll find out on July 4, 2007.”

If there is a sequel, would Bay come back for it? He’s only done one sequel so far, Bad Boys II, and it took him a long time to get to that one. Says Bay: “I’ve had a great time making it. I really have. It’s gone really smoothly, this movie, and it’s been a lot of fun. So we’ll see.” Not bad for a non-answer, I would say!