KUNG FU PANDA co-director John Stevenson told AWN that he intends to follow-up his Oscar-nominated animated feature with a live-action version of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. Meanwhile, VARIETY reported that Warner Bros. has made the deal to cinematically reboot the popular Mattel toy line, with Joel Silver producing and Mattel's Barry Waldo serving as exec producer.
The property was previously an '83 cartoon series from Mattel and Filmation, HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, as well as an ill-fated live-action feature, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERS, in '87 with Dolph Lundgren playing the iconic He-Man and Frank Langella (Oscar-nominated for FROST/NIXON) as the evil Skeletor, who wishes to rule the planet Eternia.
"It is this huge, epic, science fiction story," Stevenson explained about his live-action directorial debut. "So any negatives that might come to mind from memories of the toys or cheap Saturday morning animation or Dolph Lundgren in a leather diaper should be banished from your mind, because it would be nothing like that. We're trying to make it LORD OF THE RINGS scale, [a] very serious, adult take on that material. And the mythology that underpins the toy line and the animated series, if you take it seriously, is strong enough and rich enough to handle that. So we're working on trying to develop that as great big action/adventure movie with a boatload of [visual] effects and a unique world you've never seen before, but anchor it with the really strong human story, and make it completely real and credible and dark."
Joel Silver (through Silver Pictures) will produce the film and Barry Waldo of Mattel will exec produce.
Justin Marks wrote the first draft of the script from a story he developed with Neil Ellice when WB acquired the property in 2007.
Mattel licenses a high-end line of He-Man toys that are popular among collectors. Toy-line properties are also the stars of two upcoming summer films: DreamWorks and Paramount's TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN on June 26 and G.I. JOE from Paramount on August 7. Both started life as toy lines that became hit animated series.
Stevenson was a storyboard artist on SHREK 2 and MADAGASCAR, a story artist on SHREK and worked in visual development on LABYRINTH and THE DARK CRYSTAL.