Friday morning’s Variety confirms Latino Review’s Nov. 19 scoop: “Kung Fu Panda” co-director John Stevenson has been chosen to direct the long-brewing second live-action movie version of “Masters of The Universe,” the 1980s cartoon series about a prince-turned-warrior who finds himself battling a super-skinny tyrant.
The screenplay is by Justin Marks, whose “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li” hits U.S. cinemas in less than a month.
Critics warned me away from the 1987 Dolph Lundgren “Masters of the Universe” movie, but in the hands of a “Panda” director I could see fresh potential in the franchise.
Stevenson has decades of experience as an animation artist but his only directorial experience prior to the blockbuster “Panda” constitutes a few episodes of DreamWorks’ ill-fated post-mauling Sigfried & Roy animated sitcom “Father of The Pride.”
Thanks for the heads up, Kris!
And, from MattyCollector.com:
The latest news is in regarding the Masters of the Universe film! Check it out!
WB, Joel Silver shaping He-Man film
John Stevenson to direct live action ‘Masters’
Warner Bros. and producer Joel Silver set “Kung Fu Panda” co-director John Stevenson to make his live action directing debut on “Masters of the Universe,” a re-imagining of the signature Mattel toy line.
He-Man is a brawny prince who transforms into a warrior who becomes the last hope for a magical land called Eternia, which is being ravaged by technology and the evil Skeletor.
Silver is producing through his Silver Pictures banner. Mattel’s Barry Waldo will be executive producer.
WB acquired the property in 2007, and Justin Marks wrote the first draft of the script based on a story he wrote with Neil Ellice.
The Mattel property became iconic by way of the 1980s cartoon series “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” and the property was previously turned into a campy flop by Cannon Films in 1987, with Dolph Lungdren as He-Man and “Frost/Nixon” star Frank Langella as the villainous Skeletor.
The film project is a big priority for Mattel, which offers a high-end line of He-Man toys that are popular with hardcore collectors through its direct to collector web site MattyCollector.com.com .
Stevenson said the first film came to mind when he was asked to consider the job, and the impression wasn’t a good one. He changed his mind when he went to Mattel headquarters and was shown into a secret lair that contained the visuals created by the toymaker staff.
“There was this locked bunker that you had to be escorted into,” Stevenson said. “It was filled with art, some generated by the Mattel artists, and I looked around, and said, ‘I get it.’ We started formulating a specific vision for costumes, creatures, architecture, and the creation of a mythology and look for a whole world we’ll create.”
Waldo said that Stevenson’s vision to elevate the material matched with Mattel’s desire to see He-Man become a big studio film. Mattel has also brought its “Hot Wheels” film to WB and Silver.
“John had such passion that we found ourselves trying to running to catch up with his vision,” Waldo said.
Stevenson has also worked on “Shrek” and “Shrek 2,” “Madagascar,” and “James and the Giant Peach,” and began his career working for Jim Henson on projects that included “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth.”
I demand access to this “secret bunker”. Now.