Saga of He-Man Continues: A Possible Move to Columbia Pictures

September 24, 2009  |  3:00pm
The embattled remake of the classic cartoon from the 1980s has switched directions...again. Mattel, who owns the rights to He-Man, is in talks with Columbia Pictures about taking up the fledgling live-action movie.

The He-Man film, based on the popular animated TV show He-Man: Masters of the Universe, has had a bumpy ride. Optioned by Warner Brothers in 2007, it went through several scripts, and several writers. Director John Stevenson (Kung Fu Panda) was brought on board with the project earlier this year, and Joel Silver was producing. But through multiple changes and rewritten drafts, it seemed that Mattel and WB could not agree on an approach to the film, most recently entitled Grayskull. One of the early drafts of the film was a 300-like story about the battle between good and evil, in which the warrior He-Man is touted as the last hope for the land of Eternia, which has been ravaged by technology and the evil Skeletor. At a creative deadlock, when the option for the film lapsed earlier this month, both Mattel and WB agreed to go their separate ways.


Now comes the announcement that Columbia, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures, is in talks to distribute the project, with Escape Artists (The Back-Up Plan, The Taking of Pelham 123, Seven Pounds) producing. If it acquires He-Man, Columbia would scrap all previous ideas and begin again from scratch because Mattel only brings with it the rights to the He-Man brand itself. Warner Brothers owns the rights to all the concepts generated while it had options for the film.

This is not the first live-action He-Man film to flounder. In the summer of 1987, two years after the last episode of the cartoon was broadcast, the campy feature film Masters of the Universe was released. The film, starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor, featuring a young Courteney Cox in a small role, was a huge financial and critical flop.

Mattel also just sold rights to Universal Pictures for a live-action film version of Barbie. Barbie celebrates her 50th anniversary this year but has never been made into a live-action feature film, allegedly due to Mattel's pickiness about who and how that film is made. Laurence Mark (Julie & Julia) is set to produce.

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