Masters of the Universe, Mattel’s hit toy property from the 80s, has become something of a Netflix staple over the past few years. However, the planned live-action move has been dropped despite a huge amount of money already being spent during development.
According to insiders, approximately $30 million has already been allocated towards development expenses and securing talented individuals, such as the previously announced lead Kyle Allen (West Side Story, American Horror Story: Apocalypse) and the highly sought-after directing duo Adam and Aaron Nee (known for their work on The Lost City). Other reliable sources suggest that the total expenditure for development could reach twice that amount.
The Tribulations of The Masters of The Universe
The recent challenges faced by He-Man and his companions add another layer of complexity to the arduous path this property has taken to reach the big screen, a path that dates back to 2007. This lengthy road has traversed two different studios, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures, and has involved numerous writers and directors, including Jon M. Chu and McG. According to five individuals familiar with the project, the most recent setback at Netflix stemmed from concerns over the project exceeding its budget, leading to a significant setback.
The premise of Masters of the Universe revolves around the conflict between the heroic He-Man and his allies, known as the Masters of the Universe, and the villainous Skeletor and his evil forces. He-Man, the alter ego of Prince Adam, possesses incredible strength and wields the mystical Sword of Power, enabling him to defend the realm of Eternia against Skeletor’s schemes for domination.
The original animated television series, titled “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” debuted in 1983 and gained significant popularity among children and adults alike. The show presented moral lessons and featured memorable characters such as Battle Cat, Man-At-Arms, Teela, and Orko.
In 1987, a live-action film adaptation called “Masters of the Universe” was released, starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man. While the film did not fare well critically or commercially, it has gained a cult following over the years.
Masters of the Universe has experienced several revivals and reimaginations over time. In 2002, a reboot of the animated series, titled He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, aired after which there have been ongoing comic book series, video games, and toy lines that have kept the franchise alive and captivated fans.
In recent years, an adaptation entitled Masters of the Universe: Revelation has been produced as a Netflix original animated series. The show serves as a sequel to the original 1980s series and continues the story of He-Man and his allies. It features a star-studded voice cast and aims to appeal to both longtime fans and new audiences.
It is noteworthy that Netflix decided to withdraw its involvement in the project despite making a significant investment (part of the development expenses, which amounted to at least $30 million, had been paid to Sony when they sold the Masters of the Universe film rights to Netflix in 2019, according to sources). This decision highlights the challenges associated with creating large-scale film franchises exclusively for streaming platforms.
Producer Charles Roven, an Academy Award nominee renowned for his work on The Equalizer, has been persistently seeking a new buyer for the property. In recent weeks, sources familiar with his efforts revealed that Roven engaged in discussions with Universal Pictures regarding the acquisition of the film. However, the studio ultimately passed on the opportunity.
Undoubtedly, Roven and the executives at Mattel are pinning their hopes on the success of the upcoming Barbie film, which is projected to surpass $100 million at the box office this weekend. They anticipate that this accomplishment will strengthen their position in finding a suitable new buyer for the Masters of the Universe franchise.
In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz said: “[Masters of the Universe is] as big as Marvel and DC. It’s hundreds of pages of characters and sorcerers and vehicles and weaponry — you name it. And then you flip through the pages, and here’s a movie, and here’s a movie, and here’s a TV show. . . . it’s endless!”
There certainly is enough material in the Universe to inspire movies and shows that could rival the MCU. But what do you think? Should Mattel try to reignite our love for The Masters of The Universe, or should it be left a fond relic of our childhoods? Let us know on social media, make sure to follow us for more content like this, we’re always watching.