UPDATE: Michael Bay Planning to Return for Transformers 4

Michael Bay will be back behind the lens for a fourth Transformers film, Vulture reports. He’s said to be close to finalizing a deal with Paramount Pictures and will likely begin work after shooting his smaller-budgeted passion project, Pain and Gain.

Word of a fourth entry in the blockbuster franchise first popped up in October, suggesting that Shia LaBeouf is unlikely to return in a leading role and that a fourth and fifth film could be shot back-to-back. Those reports remain unconfirmed.

Just yesterday, a report suggested that Bay is close to locking his leading men for the dark crime comedy with Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg. Because of it’s significantly smaller scale, Pain and Gain is planned for a shoot towards the beginning of 2012, leaving the end of the year open for work on a fourth Transformers.

UPDATE: Michael Bay posted the following response to the above report on his official site:

“Right now I’m not decided on Transformers 4

Studio’s are passing rumors but I’m not sure what I’m doing? I know I’m going to do Pain and Gain early spring but that’s it for right now. I’m leaving all my options on the table. I’ve got several Studio meetings in the next two weeks.”