When "Transformers" revs up for its fourth big-screen adventure, you'll see plenty of familiar faces along for the ride: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee. ... But there won't be a single human character from the old guard. Unless, of course, you count director Michael Bay.

"It's a new cast," the director matter-of-factly told the Los Angeles Times about his plans for "Transformers 4," which will not feature Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky at all. "We're moving on to something different."

"It's not a reboot, that's maybe the wrong word," Bay added. "I don't want to say reboot because then people will think we're doing a Spider-Man and starting from the beginning. We're not. We're taking the story that you've seen &8212; the story we've told in three movies already &8212; and we're taking it in a new direction. But we're leaving those three as the history. It all still counts. I met with the writer before I went off to do 'Pain and Gain' and we talked about a bunch of ideas. We let that simmer for a bit. He's been thinking about stuff and now we're getting back together next week to see what we've got and to see if it gels."

One of the new ideas that Bay has cooked up: the possibility of bringing the Autobots and Decepticons to outer space.

"I think so, yeah, a little," he said when asked if the fourth film would go off-planet. "That feels like the way to go, doesn't it? I want to go a little off, but I don't want to go too sci-fi. I still want to keep it grounded. That's what works in these movies, that's what makes it accessible."

Bay said that "Transformers 4," which will have a smaller budget than its predecessors by "about $30 million," will be his final ride with Prime and pals. He's said as much in the past, of course — but this time, Bay insists that he means business.

"Here's the thing, it's tough to find someone who's done these kind of movies and to have the complication of creating the new stuff that needs to be in this movie — not just characters but a new type of action, I hope — and that's a lot for someone new to bite off," said the director. "And so after this one I will leave it in the best hands possible. That's the plan."

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