Masters of the Universe: Netflix cancels He-Man movie

Chris Tilly
The He-Man cartoon.

On the even of Barbie hitting cinemas worldwide this week, details are emerging of another Mattel movie being canceled, with Masters of the Universe now no longer happening at Netflix.

Mattel launched Masters of the Universe in the early 1980s, and it quickly became one of the most popular cartoons in the world. That success triggered a toy craze, with action figures of characters like He-Man, She-Ra, and Skeletor becoming bestsellers.

A film followed in 1987, but made on the cheap – and with Dolph Lundgren playing He-Man – it failed with critics and audiences alike. And killed any chance of a proposed franchise stone-dead.

Various studios have tried to team with Mattel on a new movie iteration over the last 20 years, with Hollywood heavyweights like McG and Jon M. Chu becoming attached. But each effort fell apart. And it sounds like the proposed Netflix movie has gone the same way.

Masters of the Universe: Netflix cancels He-Man movie

Masters of the Universe was set to be a live-action adaptation of the cartoon, written and directed by brothers Adam Nee and Aaron Nee (The Lost City), and starring Kyle Allen (American Horror Story) as He-Man. But the film is “officially dead” at Netflix, according to Variety.

The outlet’s insiders say that up to $30 million had already been spent on development and talent retention, with the film set to roll before cameras in February. But the streamer was worried about the movie’s eye-watering $200 million budget.

Those involved managed to get that number down to $180 million, and even suggested shooting two Masters of the Universe movies back-to-back to make the numbers work. But Netflix decided that He-Man no longer made financial sense, and so pulled the plug.

Mattel confirmed to Variety that the project is no longer at the streamer, with producer Todd Black since pitching the feature to Universal. Though they came to a similar conclusion as Netflix, and turned the project down.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for fans of He-Man, thanks to the hype surrounding Barbie, and early box office forecasts that suggesting it could be one of the years biggest hits. Meaning there’s still hope for the Masters of the Universe.

As Variety puts it: “Black and leadership at Mattel are doubtlessly hoping this weekend’s Barbie projected to take in north of $100 million at the box office, will shore up their position in finding a new buyer.”

You can read our review of Barbie here. While for more on the movie, click here.