According to Box Office Mojo, Terry Rossio (Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, Shrek) is the second most successful screenwriter in terms of domestic total box office gross. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rossio is also the latest writer attached to Columbia’s Masters of the Universe, a reboot of the 80s animated series inspired by the He-Man toys.
Columbia has not had an easy time bringing He-Man to the big screen. A first attempt titled Greyskull, after He-Man’s castle, went nowhere. This latest project was supposed to have Jon Chu (Step Up, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) direct and Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) star as Prince Adam, a.k.a. He-Man, but Chu has since left the project. As for Rossio, he steps into a seat previously occupied by no fewer than three writers working on previous drafts before him. Will the final product, Masters of the Universe written by Rossio, be worth all of the trouble? The reaction Rossio’s previous adaptation/reboot of an old TV series (The Lone Ranger) would indicate no. Columbia, on the other hand, could look to the success of Michael Bay to suggest otherwise.
Michael Bay’s Transformers films also come from an 80s animated series based on a line of toys as does his still-in-development movie based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Transformers: The Dark of the Moon made over $1 billion worldwide and, as the uproar over the (now rejected) leaked script will attest, many people were already aware of the Ninja Turtles movie as far back as 2012 despite the lack of promotional material.
That said, interest in both the Transformers and TMNT franchises has remained high largely due multiple animated TV series reboots that have kept the characters and story beats fresh in the minds of children beyond the original 80s audience. The same cannot be said for He-Man or G.I. Joe, yet another toy line adaptation. For comparison, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was a financial success but not enough of one for Paramount to keep director Stephen Sommers or much of the original cast resulting in the sequel featuring higher profile stars like Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis. More tellingly, the box office returns for the G.I. Joe movies have been significantly less than those for the Transformers movies.
Columbia seems determined to move forward with Masters of the Universe regardless, though given just how many nostalgic properties are flooding the market lately, they should be wary of overestimating the size of the audience pleading for a He-Man movie.