The "Transformers" franchise is traveling back to the 1980s, just with a Volkswagen Beetle instead of a DeLorean.



"Bumblebee," heading to theaters a year from now, is the first film in the live-action franchise to not be directed by Michael Bay. Instead, Travis Knight ("Kubo And The Two Strings") is heading behind the wheel, so to speak, for a spinoff focused on our Autobot hero.



Here's the synopsis from Paramount:




"On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug."




Empire shared a new photo showing Charlie and Bumblebee:Yep, he's back to being a bug -- like the old cartoons -- as opposed to the Chevy Camaro of the films.



Travis Knight told Empire how he wants to distinguish his film from the others by Michael Bay:




"I wanted to approach this massive, expansive franchise and really focus in on a tiny corner of the canvas. Everything I've tried to do at Laika [animation studio] -- searching for an artful blend of darkness and light, intensity and warmth, humor and heart -- I wanted to bring to the Transformers franchise."




The rest of the cast includes John Cena, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, and Gracie Dzienny.



"Bumblebee" is scheduled for release on December 21, 2018, which will pit it against DC's "Aquaman."



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