Oh, Masters of the Universe. What to do with you…
When Netflix first started rolling out Hollywood-budgeted feature films, many of us didn’t know what to think. The optimist in me thought they’d revolutionize the way things were done, and high-quality blockbusters would head to the small screen, but that isn’t exactly how it happened. Yes, they revolutionized one aspect of the industry, but it had more to do with mid-budget films than blockbusters and their place on the small screen. And, at the end of the day, Netflix still seems more content with quantity than it does quality.
The streaming giant managed to bring in some A-list talent very recently, with prestige projects like Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman standing alongside mind-numbing ones like Michael Bay’s 6 Underground. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great movies on the platform that you should watch, but when it comes to their bigger stuff, it often leaves a lot to be desired. More often than not, those popcorn flicks feel a lot closer to the shovelware we’d get in the ‘90s than the solid ones we tend to get nowadays on the big screen.
And it’s with that in mind that I look to some recent news from Discussing Film. For years, Sony tried their hardest to adapt Masters of the Universe to the big screen, and for years, it has fallen through again and again. Now, the outlet has learned that the movie will be distributed through Netflix. Sony’s own role in the film is unknown.
A Look Into the Past
Last October, THR reported that Sony was looking to find a way to minimize the risk of the Masters of the Universe film. Going with Netflix in a partnership seemed like one way to go, given that the budget was supposed to be around $130 million. While it is still possible Sony is involved, it would surprise no one if we found out Sony ultimately backs out. Apart from Spider-Man and Jumanji, they tend to limit their big-budget enterprises.
So, what does all this mean? Given Netflix’s track record, and their tendency to go quantity over quality, does this mean that the film is doomed to wallow in mediocrity? When the film hits in its planned late-2021, early 2022 release date, will it just get buried by the rest of the streamer’s slate, or will it stand out?
It’s hard to say. While I do love a good chunk of Netflix’s filmography, there is a seeming tendency for them to push just to get things out, quality be damned. On the other hand, we can’t ignore Sony’s own position. For years, they have tried to pull franchises out of their butts. They’ve tried with Ghostbusters (they’re still trying), they’re trying with the VenomVerse, they mostly succeeded with Jumanji, but their big-budget risks have mostly resulted in duds. It’s difficult not to look at movies like Ghostbusters (2016), Men in Black International, and not think that their strategy oozes of desperation.
But Is It All That Simple?
All signs do seem to be pointing to Netflix just churning this one out as one piece of its big content mountain…but there is one silver lining. As of this writing, Netflix does seem to be going all-in on He-Man. There’s a 2D-animated series from Kevin Smith headed our way that is set to serve as a direct continuation of the original series. There is also a CG-animated series that looks to be a reboot. This film seems to be the final piece in the He-Man triforce.
In recent years, I’ve pointed to Netflix having one big Achilles heel: I.P. They have a lot of great content, but apart from Stranger Things, they haven’t really capitalized on their I.P. in the same way Disney has. With all these He-Man gears in place, I think this will be their opportunity to start that approach, and the higher-ups at the streamer likely know that.
So, is the film heading over to Netflix a clue that it’ll be a dud? I honestly don’t think so. I think it could be more of a sign that Netflix is finally taking this I.P. game a little more seriously.
But what do you think of all this? Do you agree with me, or do you see this whole thing as just another attempt for Netflix to fill out their slate? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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