EXCLUSIVE: The long-in-development Masters of the Universe reimagining from Mattel looks to be gaining some momentum as sources tell Deadline that Travis Knight is in final negotiations to direct. Insiders say his deal has not closed and that other elements on the project are still coming together, but all signs are pointing to Knight being the top choice.
Chris Butler will rewrite the script from an initial draft written by David Callaham and Aaron & Adam Nee. Amazon MGM Studios in final negotiations for rights to the project, with Mattel’s Robbie Brenner and Escape Artists’ Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal producing.
More from Deadline
Amazon MGM had no comment.
Knight is the President and CEO of Laika, the Portland-based animation studio best known for hit stop-motion films including Coraline and Missing Link. Although his focus has still been on animation in recent years — he helmed the 2016 toon feature Kubo and the Two Strings –– Knight made his first big splash in the live-action arena with the Transformers spinoff Bumblebee in 2018. The pic not only received some of the best reviews for the franchise, but Knight delivered a film under the typical budget of a Transformers pic, something every major studio took notice of.
Given his unique skill set of working in both the animation and live-action worlds, studio execs have viewed him as a top Masters of the Universe choice for some time, with sources saying Knight was the only director to give an in-person presentation. That happened last week and ultimately sealed the deal on him getting the offer.
The film is based on the popular 1980s cartoon series, and this iteration revolves around 9-year-old Prince Adam crashing to Earth in a spaceship and being separated from his Magical Sword – the only link to his home on Eternia. After tracking it down almost two decades later, Adam is whisked back across space to defend his home planet against the evil forces of Skeletor. But to defeat such a powerful villain, Prince Adam first will need to uncover the mysteries of his past and become He-Man — the most powerful man in the universe.
While there has only been one live-action Masters of the Universe movie, the 1987 pic starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man, Hollywood as had an obsession with getting another one off the ground given how the IP remains popular with both older and younger generations.
Knight is repped by CAA.
Best of Deadline