Parts of the film were shot at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, CA, simultaneously with 13 Reasons Why (2017). Some of the scenes involved pyrotechnics and helicopters, causing the "13" crew to have to wait between filming takes so that the loud special effects wouldn't disrupt the on-set sound recording.
Throughout the movie there's several clips of The Breakfast Club (1985) shown. Specifically the end when Judd Nelson's character leaves the school and fist bumps the sky. Judd Nelson was in The Transformers: The Movie (1986) as the voice of Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime. Also, in Transformers Animated.
Hailee Steinfeld was not born until nine years after the setting of the film and had to be taught how to use some typical items of the '80s era, such as how to work a Walkman, which was completely foreign to her.
It was speculated that Hasbro and Paramount were planning to reboot the Transformers film franchise in the near future, if "Bumblebee" performed well at the box office and general reception was good. This is now the case, as "Bumblebee" is the start of a new movie universe.
The scene in which Charlie is trying to repair Bumblebee and unwittingly activates Optimus Prime's holographic message after declaring "There's something stuck here", is a homage to Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), with the same scene occurring between Luke Skywalker, R2-D2 and the hologram of Princess Leia.
There are several incidents throughout the film that are homage to films directed or produced by Steven Spielberg: The cinema hall's poster shows the Spielberg-produced "Gremlins." The overalls that Charlie wears during her speech about her late father has the initials BFG, referring to Spielberg's film "The B.F.G." Memo's room has a poster of "Raiders of The Lost Ark." The tunnel where the police patrol car chases after Bumblebee, Charlie and Memo is the same tunnel used in the climax of "Back to the Future: Part II" and the entrance to Toon Town in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"
At one point Memo holds a "GoBots" book and drops it when startled. The GoBots toy line was the main competitor to Transformers in the 1980's, and the brand has since been acquired by Hasbro, the company that owns the Transformers property. Memo talks about GoBots in a deleted scene.
After Charlie spills lemonade on Tripp, if you look closely you'll notice the license plate on Tripp's car (2FAN321) is the same license plate on Jack Burton's Pork Chop Express Truck in the film "Big Trouble in Little China".
Bumblebee's model is a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle with bumpers that were only available to the export versions of the Beetle. The yellow color of Bumblebee was also only available for the export version Volkswagens as the color in Germany was used by the then state owned German Postal Service (Deutsche Bundespost) and therefore the color was not available to the public until 1990.
At one point in the film, a certain eager Sector 7 agent has some news for Agent Burns. Burns refers to him as Agent "Simmons," a younger version of John Turturro's character from earlier movies in the series.
Both Uncle Hank and Charlie's family are seen watching ALF - a show about a family taking in an alien with the government trying to hunt it down like in this movie. Charlie at one point tells Bumblebee to not show anyone his true form because if he was caught they would keep him in a lab and cut him up, which is what the government was trying to do to ALF on the show.
Dario Marianelli provided the music score for the film, making this the first time Steve Jablonsky has not scored one of the films in the franchise. Hailee Steinfeld's single "Back to Life" was released from the soundtrack on November 2, 2018.
Bumblebee only now regains his VW Beetle vehicle mode because the company did not want the car to be associated with the action and violence the Bay movies are so infamous for. They allowed a more prominent use of the car here due to the more faithful representation of the much tamer, family-friendly G1 series.
During the car chase scene before the bridge Bumblebee goes off the edge but catches on the railing and returns back up to the road before the tunnel. This scene is almost shot for shot the same as the opening chase in Castle Of Cagliostro (1979) and in it Lupin drives a yellow Fiat that looks very similar to a VW Bug
In the second trailer, a number of Transformers from The Transformers (1984) can be seen, in their original G1 design. Among those are Optimus Prime, Shockwave, Soundwave and his cassette Ravage. There is also a scene that appears to take place on Cybertron, that shows a pyramid shaped aircraft. The scene seems very similar to a scene in the first episode of the original Transformers series, The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: Part 1 (1984).
The test screening of Bumblebee featured many differences from the final theatrical cut, among them being a scene that would've entirely confirmed the movie as being a prequel to Transformers (2007). This credits stinger depicts Sector 7 agents stating that the Autobots cannot learn of NBE-1's existence, NBE-1 of course being what the group called Megatron in the 2007 movie. The shot would cut to Megatron in the G1-esque style the rest of the Transformers cast appeared as, preserved in cryogenics. This scene was cut from the final version due to Travis Knight wanting the movie to be largely one that could be enjoyed without needing prior knowledge on any of the Bay movies before it.
The Decepticon Blitzwing design almost looked identical to the design of Starscream from The Transformers (1984). This lead many fans to believe that this character was Starscream, until director Travis Knight disproved it. In the original cartoon, Blitzwing was purple and beige Decepticon that could turn into both a jet and a tank.
A month before release, a behind-the-scenes video about the recording session of the film's Hungarian dub revealed that Bumblebee will be able to speak, unlike in much of the previous Transformers films in the live-action movie series.
Principal photography on the film began on July 31, 2017, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Vallejo, and Mare Island, California, and was scheduled to finish on November 16, 2017, under the working title Brighton Falls. Filming concluded 6 days ahead of schedule on November 10, 2017. Later, in November 2017, the film was revealed to have changed its title to Bumblebee: The Movie, as well as having wrapped up filming.
Bumblebee is Transformers' first spin-off based on the yellow Autobot. The director of the blockbuster is Travis Knight, who was noticed with his first feature film Kubo and the Two Strings, named in the Best Animated Film category at the 2016 Oscars. He is also known for his work as a producer. and director of animation for the studio Laika (Coraline, The Strange Power of Norman) of which he is the vice-president. Bumblebee marks a big first for Knight as he not only makes his debut in live production but also in a big franchise studio film.
Hailee Steinfeld is the latest in the line of actors/actresses who have worked with Joel & Ethan Coen to have gone on to have a role in a live-action Transformers film. Others are John Turturro, John Goodman, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, and John Malkovich.
While the Transformers cast take on a more G1-esque appearance in this movie, the titular character retains only the vehicle mode of his 80's counterpart, appearing more like a rounded version of his Bay-style design.
Hasbro, owner of the Transformers brand, filed a complaint on August 28, 2017 against Warner Bros. and DC Comics, accusing them of intellectual property infringement about Bumblebee. Bumblebee is the name of the yellow Autobot from the world of Transformers; it is also that of a teenage girl with wings who is able to shrink and belongs to DC Super Hero Girls (2015), a DC Comics property that revolves around the super heroines.
When Bumblebee leaves the wrecked house he partially transforms, leaving his lower half with wheels. This form resembles Rattrap's form in Beast Machines: Transformers (1999). In the Beast Wars continuity, a sequel to the original Transformers, Rattrap is like Bumblebee and is a top-notch soldier who works mostly reconnaissance.
Grey Griffin returns to voice the female Autobot Arcee in the opening sequence on Cybertron, previously she had voiced the character, as well as Alita-1 and Chromia, in 2009's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
In "Bumblebee" : Jorge Lendeborg Jr. plays Memo, who has a romantic connection with Charlie, who is a friend to Bumblebee, a human-like robot. In "Alita: Battle Angel" : Jorge plays Tanji, who is a friend to Hugo, who has a romantic connection with Alita, a cyborg.
The cassette tape that Bumblebee ejects with such force that it hits the wall is Rick Astley: Never Gonna Give You Up (1987) . Although it was somewhat popular at movie's time period, it gained a new life in the 21st century as the "Rickroll" tune. That is, it would be used as a prank and played unexpectedly, such as in an internet link that the user thought was going to take them elsewhere.
When faced with Sector 7, Shatter presents herself and Dropkick as "Decepticon Peacekeepers" to the humans in order to gain their trust and sattelite access. This may or may not be a reference to the Decepticon Justice Division from the IDW comic series.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When Charlie is getting dared to jump off of the cliff, Bumblebee briefly plays "The Touch" by Stan Bush on his radio. "The Touch" was the main theme song for The Transformers: The Movie (1986) and subsequently used in the television series.
The transport truck that Bumblebee drives beside at the end of the movie is a replica of the form that Optimus Prime takes in the 1980s which is a Kenworth 100 truck in the Transformers cartoon series.
The producers cited The Iron Giant as the main influence for the film. As can be seen when Bumblebee regains his memory and attacks the army in defense of Charlie. Bumblebees eyes glow red just like the Iron Giant and even has his arm transform into a gun in the same way and is calmed down in the same way.
An Easter Egg during the final fight between Bumblebee and the Decepticon Dropkick is shown when during their fight Dropkick throws robot mode Bumblebee only to have Bumblebee transform into his vehicle mode and land safely on the ground and u-turn towards Dropkick and transform back into robot mode and punch Dropkick in his face. This is directly lifted from the original 1984 G1 Season 1 cartoon opening credits where the exact same move is performed by Decepticon Skywarp on Autobot Jazz who in turn performs the same move Bumblebee does.
John Cena, who plays Agent Burns, was originally supposed to play a villain named "Scarface" as seen from behind-the-scenes photos from his stunt double Joseph Kelly. It is unclear what made the change but rumor has it, like wrestling, they did not want John Cena the heel but more the face and this would also leave John Cena's role open for a sequel.
Near the end of the climax, when Charlie has stopped the Decepticon signal from loading, the bar shows that it was 84% complete. 1984 was the year the original Transformers cartoon, toys and comics all made their debut.
The plot borrows heavily from Marvel Comics Transformers #20 (September 1986), where the Autobot Skids is injured during a battle and ends up in the care of a young woman who shows him all about the human world.
Similar to Ratchet in Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Cliffjumper is killed after refusing to give Optimus Prime's location to the Decepticons, despite them offering to let him live if he did. They both even had the same last words: "Never."
While Bumblebee does still lose his ability to speak prior to the events of the 2007 movie, how he loses it is what changes. In the 2007 comics as well as Transformers Prime, Megatron is the one to tear out his voice box. Here, he loses his voice box to Blitzwing during their fight after valiantly declaring "he'll never talk."
Cliffjumper's death is a direct reference to Transformers Prime (2010), where he befell a similar fate at the hands of Starscream. Dropkick stabbing him in the chest is almost a direct parallel of that very scene.
While Shatter and Dropkick are the two most prominent Triple Changers throughout the live action Transformers movies thus far, they are not technically the first. Age of Extinction's (2014) Autobot Drift featured both a helicopter and Bugatti Veyron mode, the former mode being entirely absent from the succeeding movie, The Last Knight.
As Bee turns into the Camaro and drives away, Charlie can be seen in the driver's side rear-view mirror. It has the "objects are closer than they appear" warning on it, which is usually only found on the passenger-side mirror.