John Stevenson to direct live action 'Masters'
Warner Bros. and producer Joel Silver have set “Kung Fu Panda” co-director John Stevenson to make his live-action directing debut on “Masters of the Universe,” a reimagining of the signature Mattel toy line.Pic will revolve around He-Man, a prince who transforms into a warrior and becomes the last hope for a magical land being ravaged by the evil Skeletor. Silver is producing through his Silver Pictures banner. Mattel’s Barry Waldo will be exec producer. WB acquired the property in 2007, and Justin Marks wrote the first draft of the script based on a story he developed with Neil Ellice. The Mattel property was adapted into the 1980s cartoon series “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.” 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 licenses a high-end line of He-Man toys that are popular with hardcore collectors. Hollywood has become a magnet for branded toy-line properties, as DreamWorks and Paramount ready a June 26 release for “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and Paramount preps for an Aug. 7 release on “G.I. Joe.” Both began as toy lines that became hit animated series. Waldo said 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 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.” He began his career working for Jim Henson on projects that included “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth.”