Fox-based company puts pic into turnaround

Fox-based New Regency has put robot project “Voltron: Defender of the Universe” into turnaround.

Ryan Kavanaugh’s financing and production venture Relativity Media is in negotiations to back the property, though on a more moderate budget, utilizing the type of cost-effective technology employed in films including “300.”

The Mark Gordon Co. still is attached to produce “Voltron,” which is based on the popular Japanese animated TV series of the 1980s.

Mark Gordon and Jordan Wynn are producers. Executive producers are Bryan Zuriff, Jim Young, of Animus Films, Mark Costa and Ford Oelman, of NHO Entertainment. Producers expect to attach a director within the next week.

Relativity would finance and produce the project as part of its one-off picture business and shop it to distributors. In the past, Relativity films have been released by Lionsgate (“3:10 to Yuma”) and MGM (“Mr. Brooks”).

Last summer, New Regency picked up the rights to the property, adapted by scribe Justin Marks, who’s behind Warner Bros.’ bigscreen versions of “He-Man” and “Green Arrow.”

Marks’ take is described as a post-apocalyptic tale set in New York City and Mexico, where five survivors of an alien attack band together and end up piloting the five lion-shaped robots that combine and form the massive sword-wielding Voltron that helps battle Earth’s invaders.

Technically, New Regency never had the rights to the project, insiders close to the project said. The shingle couldn’t wrap up a deal with “Voltron’s” rights holders World Events Prods., based in St. Louis, delaying any further development of the pic.

Talks for “Voltron” were under way before DreamWorks and Paramount successfully launched “Transformers,” but Hollywood’s interest in robot pics based on popular toys or toons grew after “Transformers” hit it big at the B.O., with Warner Bros. snatching up the rights to “Robotech.”

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