Netflix Axes Live-Action Masters Of The Universe Movie After Allegedly Spending $30 Million In Development


So Netflix has "spend millions of dollars on a movie and then cancel it" money but not "fair pay and residuals" money? Oh, okay.

We've been hearing about the live-action "Masters of the Universe" film since the start of 2022, which would bring He-Man and other memorable characters into a new, fleshy form. The film was originally in development at Sony, but moved to Netflix to join forces with the already-released "He-Man & Masters of the Universe," "Masters of the Universe: Revelation," and "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power." Unfortunately, as we learned from the news that first broke in an exclusive report from Variety, Netflix has wiped their hands of the live-action film. Variety reports that Mattel, the company that owns all things He-Man, is looking for a new home for the project.

However, insiders told Variety that an estimated $30 million has already been spent on development costs and securing talent. "Rosaline" and "The Map of Tiny Perfect Things" star Kyle Allen was supposed to star, with "The Lost City" directors Adam and Aaron Nee slated to helm. Important to note that $30 million is apparently on the low end of estimates, with some sources telling Variety the actual dollar amount could possibly be even double. 

"Masters of the Universe" may have looked like a sure thing in 2022, but its troubles date all the way back to 2007. Warner Bros. also had their hands on the property at one point, and the studio has an established relationship with Mattel as evidenced by their collaboration on "Barbie." Variety's sources say the Netflix loss is due to budgetary concerns and while Mattel did confirm the project was no longer at the streaming juggernaut, they did not provide any additional comment.

The pressure is on

It's alleged that the budget for "Masters of the Universe" was over $200 million or just under six episodes of "Stranger Things." The film would have brought the rivalry between He-Man and Skeletor to live-action for the first time since 1987 when Dolph Lundgren starred as the Man with the Sword of Power. Production on the film was supposed to begin in February 2024 (pending the length of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, which are the result of AMPTP failing to negotiate an acceptable contract), but Netflix lost over $50 billion in value in April of 2022, and they seem to be making it everyone else's problem. A source familiar with Netflix told Variety that the drop in Netflix's stock had nothing to do with the budgetary issues of "Masters of the Universe," but it seems like they still weren't sold on more He-Man.

Variety also reports that producers tried to haggle for a $180 million budget, but Netflix still wasn't having it. There were even whispers about shooting the film and a proposed sequel at the same time to try and maximize shooting costs. But, as we've learned with the news break, Netflix still isn't down to play. Given the current state of the industry, "Masters of the Universe" is more than likely done for good. 

Perhaps a different studio will want to revisit the property once WGA and SAG-AFTRA are given the deal they deserve, but the powers at be might be too busy crying about not getting to buy a new yacht and finally having to release transparent viewership numbers at that point to care.

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