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We’ve recently received word that a couple of productions have hit some pretty major road bumps. First up, according to Variety, Warner Brothers has pulled out of the Masters of the Universe project. Universe has had a pretty troubled history all around: When a script review for Justin Marks Grayskull: Masters of the Universe script first hit the web over a year ago, there was much rejoicing. Peter even wrote  about five reasons why Marks’ live action He-Man might be cool.

Shortly afterwards, we learned that the project was basically dead, before it was resurrected with Kung Fu Panda director John Stevenson at the helm, along with producer Joel Silver. Now, Variety says, it turns out that “Mattel and WB didn’t see eye to eye over the direction of the project and made a mutual decision to let the option lapse this month.” Mattel is expected to shop the property elsewhere with Stevenson still attached. If I had to guess though, I’d say they won’t have the easiest time of it; in this economy, studios want sure bets, and a big expensive action/adventure flick based on a moribund property with a fairly unproven director could be a huge risk. Box office wise, you could either end up with Transformers, or Land of the Lost, and I might even lean more towards the latter possibility in this case.
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New Screenwriter To Board Super Max

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New news on Super Max has been a long time coming. The state of play was this: Justin Marks was scripting, David Goyer was producing, DC comics’ Green Arrow was the lead character and the plot would see him incarcerated in the tip-topper most high security prison in the DC universe, framed for a crime he didn’t commit.

There have been any number of rumors surrounding the project along the way. Would Matt Damon star as the Green Arrow? Would Kevin Smith direct? Would Lex Luthor, The Riddler or The Joker appear? It has generated a healthy bag full of headlines over a couple of years without actually going into production, or even pre-production. Nonetheless, slow and steady can often win the race and Super Max is still chugging along steadily. David Goyer has spoken to MTV and given an update. Here’s the man himself:

We’re working on that. We’re about to bring on another writer. Obviously, Warner Bros. is now heavily into mining all of the various DC properties.

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Voltron

Atlas Entertainment is developing a live-action Voltron movie. Producers Charles Roven (The Dark Knight), Richard Suckle (The International) and Steve Alexander have acquired the rights to make a film based on the Japanese anime property after several years in development at various production companies.

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Braveheart scribe Randall Wallace has been hired to rewrite Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo, which is being developed for McG. Not a good sign for the project, which has already had a couple notable writers. Geek screenwriter Justin Marks (Masters of the Universe, Super Max) was hired in February to rewrite Bill Marsilli‘s (Deja Vu) original draft. Wallace is squeezing the Nemo “writing gig” in before he goes off to direct the racehorse drama Secretariat in September. Wallace, who was nominated for an Oscar for writing Braveheart, has since been credited with Pearl Harbor, We Were Soldiers, and The Rookie.

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Shadow of the Colossus
In the past I’ve polled some of my video gamer friends, asking them what video games they would like to see turned into a big screen movie. Shadow of the Colossus is one of the games which always seems to make the wish list. THR reports that screenwriter Justin Marks has been hired to write a screenplay based on the video game property. Public Enemies producer Kevin Misher set the project up at Sony.

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Justin Marks to Rewrite McG’s Captain Nemo

Justin Marks has been hired by Disney to rewrite 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo, which McG is attached to direct. Marks is well known in Hollywood as a screenwriter who gets the geek niche, and has turned in drafts for Masters of the Universe, Super Max (The Green Arrow jailbreak movie), Voltron, Hack/Slash and Street Fighter. Disney hopes to make the film this year, and McG is slotting it as his next project, before he moves on to a fifth Terminator film. McG supposedly wants Will Smith to play Captain Nemo.

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Kung-Fu Panda Director to Helm He-Man

Rumors of He-Man’s death have been greatly exaggerated. LatinoReview has word that Kung Fu Panda co-director John Stevenson might now be attached to the project after knocking one home in a pitch to  Joel Silver’s production company.

Stevenson has an extensive background in art direction and animation, starting out as a character designer on The Muppet Show in the late 1970′s. He worked in visual development on The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth and was a storyboard artist of Shrek and Shrek 2. I loved the action sequences in Kung Fu Panda, but wasn’t a fan of the character design. It will be interesting to see what Stevenson will do with the adaptation. Is Justin Marks screenplay Grayskull still in play?

Grayskull is Dead

You might remember that a few month ago, a review of Justin Marks‘ screenplay for the live action He-Man movie Grayskull: The Masters of the Universe was creating some big buzz on the interwebs.

Phrases were being tossed around like “fanboy masterpiece” and the story was described as “Lord of the Rings meets The Matrix meets Batman Begins.” It was enough to get us excited about the project – we even listed off five reasons the movie could actually be cool. And lets face it, “cool” is not even in the first 50 words that would normally come to mind when thinking about a He-Man movie.

Well Latino Review is now reporting that the project has fallen into development hell, and is likely dead. Warner Bros wasn’t high on the property in the first place (why hire a screenwriter then?), and the two executives who were interested in the property, are now gone. We can only hope that Warners decides to put the project in turnaround.

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