Sony tried develop its He-Man and the Masters of the Universe franchise since 2007 without much to show for it. Despite a live action remake of Masters of the Universe scheduled for a theatrical release in March 2021, Sony might have other plans according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Will "Masters of the Universe" be in theaters or Netflix?
Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman is in preliminary talks. A deal makes Sony the next studio after Paramount to make movies bringing near-exclusively to the streamer. Sony's dilemma is to seek a studio or financier to partner on the film, holding on to various rights and territories, or play it save by going to Netflix. The latter option could backfire should the film be a success.
The risk is sound considering 1987's Masters of the Universe starring Dolph Lundgren was a box office flop for Cannon Films. The report suggests more studios follow the route of exclusivity to the services in dedicating projects they feel won't be viable for theatrical release. Netflix already has a remake of the He-Man spinoff in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Filmmaker Kevin Smith is also developing a He-Man anime series for the streamer.
The new strategy comes on the heels of Sony's losses from Men in Black: International, a commercial flop at the box office. Sony spent an excess of $120 million on marketing for the film, which is far greater than the production budget. The company ended up losing around $40-50 million.
A deal with Netflix can be a low-risk/high reward for companies like Sony. Sure, the company potentially leaves money on the table, but something has to be done with their IPs, right? Especially when it's been collecting dust? It's a win-win for both companies since the streamer is always looking for new original content. Also, the scrutiny on getting a project made wouldn't be as high if the studio wasn't sure if a film can be theatrically successful.