Casting underway for ‘Transformers 3’

Malkovich, McDormand set for Paramount film

The elements are falling into place for “Transformers 3,” with Frances McDormand and John Malkovich signing on to the project, which begins pre-shoots next month.

Also onboard for the pic in Paramount’s tentpole franchise is “The Hangover’s” Ken Jeong. Director Michael Bay announced the latest developments on the pic on his blog.

“Transformers 3” is set for release July 1, 2011. It is not known whether the third installment will be shot in 3D. The first two were shot in 2D.

“Transformers” is Paramount’s most valuable franchise, particularly since the studio is the sole financier. The first “Transformers” grossed $709.7 million worldwide, followed by $836.4 million for last year’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

Initially, Bay had wanted to take a longer break before lensing the three-quel, but ultimately decided to meet the studio’s summer 2011 release date.

Bay did disclose that the newest Autobot to join the franchise is the Ferrari 458 Italia. The helmer, a Ferrari collector, has been working with the automaker in recent weeks on relief efforts for Haiti.

Ehren Kruger penned the script for “Transformers 3.” Storyline is being kept under tight wraps. Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox return for the lead roles.

Par took sole custody of “Transformers” as part of its divorce from DreamWorks. Steven Spielberg remains exec producer.