I HAVE THE POOOOOO… or not. It appears that Netflix has canceled its plans for a live-action He-Man movie called Masters of the Universe despite having sunk at least $30 million dollars into the development of the film, per Variety. The movie, which has been through multiple iterations and multiple studios, already had Adam and Aaron Nee set to direct and Kyle Allen set to lead but was reportedly already making Netflix uncomfortable with delays that caused it to go over budget.
Masters of the Universe was supposed to be the launch of a massive universe for Netflix that it could spin out into another franchise that featured a plethora of characters from the classic 1980s cartoon. The streamer already had a hit animated series running with the property, and it looked like this would be the logical next step. But after a disastrous stock drop last year, it appears that the streamer is tightening its belt. (Although, a Variety source denies that this specifically played into the cancellation.) The He-Man movie, which was already deep in pre-production, had originally set a $200 million budget, but Netflix came back and said it wanted something closer to $150 million. Mattel and the Nee brothers worked to bring the budget down, reportedly landing somewhere in the $180 million range and even suggesting they film a proposed sequel back to back, but the two sides couldn’t meet despite Netflix being hot on the brother directors.
It’s quite a shocking move as streamers are relentlessly hungry to create projects that can expand into larger franchises, and Masters of the Universe had it all: a nostalgic fanbase, a massive cadre of characters specifically designed to sell, and a red-hot partner in Mattel, who is looking to have one of the summer’s true massive hits with Barbie coming. Still, Netflix dropped out, which speaks to the fact that making big-budget films for streaming only is getting to be a riskier proposition as the streaming bubble pops.
This, however, isn’t the end for Masters of the Universe. Despite being tossed around as a project for decades and going through three studios, Mattel is still hot on the property. One of the film’s producers, Todd Black, reportedly shopped the property to Universal within the last month. The studio declined to hop on board, possibly as it’s seeing its own Fast and Furious franchise falter, but Mattel is undeterred thinking that at the moment it is simply Prince Adam and all it needs is the right studio to have the power.