Silver, WB eyeing rights to live-action 'Masters'


Warner Bros. Pictures and Joel Silver are trying to get the power of Grayskull.

The studio and producer are in negotiations with toy company Mattel to acquire the rights to one of the most popular cartoons of the 1980s, "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe," with plans to bring a live-action version to the big screen.

Justin Marks has been brought on board to pen the adaptation, which will be called "Masters of the Universe," after the name of the Mattel toy line on which the Filmation-produced cartoon was based.

The parties are deep in the back and forth, with a deal potentially months away, according to sources.

The cartoon was known for the image of blond-haired Prince Adam on top of a mountain uttering the magic words, "By the power of Grayskull, I have the power," and turning into the heroic He-Man. He-Man and his allies -- Battle Cat, Man-at-Arms and Orko -- defended their planet Eternia from the evil forces of Skeletor, who tried week after week to conquer a fortress known as Castle Grayskull, which imbued He-Man with his powers.

The show spawned the spinoff series, "She-Ra: Princess of Power," which followed the adventures of He-Man's sister.

The new take on "Masters" skews more toward gritty fantasy and reimagines Adam as a soldier who sets off to find his destiny, happening upon magical world called Eternia. There, a being called Skeletor has raised a technological army and is bent on eradicating all traces of magic.

"Masters" made its way to the big screen in 1987 in a science fiction/fantasy film from Cannon Film, also titled "Masters of the Universe," which starred Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor and featured a young Courteney Cox. The property has since been mired in rights issues; at one point, a version called "He-Man" was set up at Fox 2000, with John Woo attached to direct.

Neil Ellice will co-produce "Masters."

Silver Pictures exec Navid McIlhargey brought the project in and will be involved in a producer capacity.

Marks, repped by WMA, wrote "Voltron: Defender of the Universe," based on the 1980s cartoon, as well as Warners' "Super Max," centering on DC Comics superhero Green Arrow.