Director Michael Bay is reportedly in "final negotations" to direct a fourth entry in the wildly-popular "Transformers" franchise, despite his earlier contention that this year's "Dark of the Moon" would be his last outing with the series. So how did Paramount manage to coax him back?

According to Vulture, which broke the story, the studio allegedly used a long-time pet project of Bay's to bait him into helming the next "Transformers" installment, with the implication being that they agreed to bankroll said pet-project - a revenge-thriller entitled "Pain or Gain" - in exchange for him signing on to direct.

Reports indicate the film will not be a prequel, but rather will "delve deeper into Transformers canon to mine older characters and lore." In other words, if you've been hankering to see one of your favorite less-well-known "Transformers" characters featured in an upcoming film, it might just be your lucky day.

Bay would likely begin production on "Pain or Gain" first - reports indicate as early as next spring - before moving on to helm the next "Transformers" chapter, perhaps as early as Winter 2012.

As for the former film, it's reportedly based on a true story about a Florida businessman who hired a private eye to hunt down a group of "dimwitted Miami bodybuilders" after they kidnapped, tortured and robbed him. The real-life episode was recounted in a three-part story originally published in the "Miami New Times" in 1999, and Bay has allegedly been trying to adapt it ever since.

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide. 

What do you think of this news? Excited to see Bay take on a new "Transformers" installment, or were you hoping for a fresh start without him? Sound off in the comments!