It looks like Amazon MGM Studios has He-Man’s power sword as the studio is in early talks to produce a live-action “Masters of the Universe” film, according to a insider with knowledge of the project.
Netflix put the property into turnaround after investing $30 million in its development. The project has been bouncing around Hollywood from Mattel and producer Todd Black for over 15 years, with Warner Bros. and Sony, as well as filmmakers like Jon M. Chu and McG temporarily involved.
This recent attempt was shelved due to concerns over the budget, which reportedly ran over $200 million and was shut down even after the filmmakers allegedly brought the costs below $180 million.
This latest version had Kyle Allen — still officially attached — starring as He-Man with Adam and Aaron Nee (“The Lost City”) set to direct.
Should Amazon move forward with the project, they will need to negotiate new agreements with the Nee brothers to polish the script and direct. Both Mattel and Black will also push for a substantial theatrical release – something that was not fully possible at Netflix.
The “He-Man” franchise started as an afternoon cartoon in the 1980s, centering around a muscular, blonde hero loosely based on Conan the Barbarian, and his arch enemy Skeletor. The show was designed to promote the sale of He-Man action figures and related toys.
It premiered in 1985 as one of the first cartoon series produced specifically for first-run syndication, following a 1981 bill that allowed children’s shows to be used for selling merchandise. “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” joined “Inspector Gadget” and “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” as pioneers of this new business model of using cartoons as long-form commercials.
The 1980s cartoon spawned a live-action film in 1987 starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor. However, “Masters of the Universe” received poor reviews and lackluster box office results that summer.
While the animated series has seen several reboots and new versions over the years, including two recent He-Man shows on Netflix and the acclaimed “She-Ra” revival, the 1987 movie remains the only attempt at a live-action He-Man feature film to date. Directed by Gary Goddard, it was released in theaters two years before Tim Burton’s “Batman” and two decades before Michael Bay’s “Transformers.” At the time, the idea of a big-budget theatrical fantasy film adapted from a children’s cartoon was quite novel and unprecedented.
Variety first reported the news.
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