As broken by Variety, the streaming giant has officially pulled the plug on the film that would have brought He-Man and company back to live-action. Sources say that Netflix had already sunk $30 million into the project. (This accounts for buying the rights from Sony, development costs, and the cost of retaining the film’s directors and star.) However, other sources claim that the all-in development costs could have actually been twice as high.
At any rate, a spokesperson for Mattel has confirmed that the Masters of the Universe movie is no longer at Netflix. A Netflix spokesperson, on the other hand, declined to comment. Variety reports that Mattel is shopping the film to other potential buyers.
The latest attempt to bring Masters of the Universe to live-action has gone through numerous iterations since 2007. The film was previously being developed at Warner Bros. before shifting to Sony. Sony then sold the project to Netflix. The Nee Brothers, Adam and Aaron, were attached to direct the film for the streamer. Kyle Allen was attached to play the lead role of He-Man following the departure of previous star Noah Centineo (who had signed on under Sony).
Why did Netflix drop the Masters of the Universe movie?
Variety’s sources cite budget as the main reason the Netflix iteration of Masters of the Universe fell through. Supposedly, the film would have come with a price tag of over $200 million. Production was initially set to kick off this February. However, Netflix lost over $50 billion in stock value last spring, owing to investors growing concerned over the platform’s subscriber losses. Sources close to the production claim that Netflix was unwilling to spend more than $150 million on Masters of the Universe after the fact.
That said, another source familiar with Netflix claims the stock drop had nothing to do with the film’s budgetary woes. According to them, Netflix has spent a flat $17 billion on content for the past two years, regardless of changes in the market. At any rate, the Nee Brothers reportedly worked with their producers in an attempt to bring the budget down to something Netflix would agree to.
The producers proposed a $180 million budget to Netflix. According to one source, this would have included the development costs. However, despite being very high on the Nee Brothers, Netflix still turned down the proposal and declined to give Masters of the Universe the green light. While Allen is technically still attached to play He-Man, there’s also now the matter of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) strike and the accompanying Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. This further complicates the project’s potential future.
By the power of Grayskull…
Mattel’s Masters of the Universe toy line initially launched in 1982. The franchise’s first animated series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, aired from 1983 to 1985. Since then, it has spawned a number of spin-offs, reboots, and revivals. The first (and, to date, only) live-action Masters of the Universe film released in theaters in 1987. It starred Dolph Lundgren as He-Man.
Netflix dropping the planned second live-action film from its slate is especially surprising, given that the streamer has been the de-facto home of all things Masters of the Universe in recent years. Some of Netflix’s original animated series include She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and the 2021 iteration of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The streamer is also the home of Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Kevin Smith’s sequel to the original ’80s series. A follow-up, Masters of the Universe: Revolution, is also coming down the pipeline.