When Universal Pictures purchased DreamWorks Animation a few months ago, they also inherited a number of projects in various stages of development. According to Deadline, one of the those properties is a live-action film based on the Voltron franchise.
Jeffrey Katzenberg had secretly been putting the project together, working from a script by David Hayter. Video game fans will know Hayter as the voice of Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series, but he’s also an accomplished screenwriter with credits on X-Men, X2: X-Men United and Watchmen.
For those unfamiliar with the original animated series Voltron: Defender of the Universe, it follows a group of astronauts who discover five enormous lion-shaped robots that combine to form Voltron, a colossal mechanical weapon of immense power. The original series aired in syndication during the mid-1980s, but the franchise has enjoyed various other incarnations and re-imaginings over the years.
Development on the big-screen version of Voltron seems to be in the very early stages, and with the project being something that Universal inherited as part of an acquisition, there’s no guarantee that it will move forward. Studio executives will wait for Hayter to turn in another draft of the screenplay before making any decisions, but the recent success of the animated reboot Voltron: Legendary Defender could be a deciding factor.
Hollywood has been trying to figure out a live-action version of Voltron for nearly a decade, with Twentieth Century Fox announcing in 2007 that Justin Marks (The Jungle Book) had been hired to develop the screenplay as “a post-apocalyptic tale set in New York City and Mexico. Five ragtag survivors of an alien attack band together and end up piloting the five lion-shaped robots that combine and form the massive sword-wielding Voltron that helps battle Earth’s invaders.”
The film went through various iterations over the next several years, even hiring One Last Dance director Max Makowski at one point, but the project always seemed to fall apart just as it was building momentum. However, the continued success of Paramount’s Transformers franchise (also based on a cartoon series from the 1980s) and the warm reception garnered by the recent animated reboot indicates an audience willing to embrace a live-action Voltron movie.
If similar properties like Power Rangers and Pacific Rim 2 result in favorable box office receipts, then Universal could be more inclined to move forward. But if giant robots fighting intergalactic threats doesn’t attract large audiences, then the studio may turn out to be the latest to pull the plug on Voltron.
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