Director Jon M. Chu is the man behind the success of the “Step Up” films. Now, he’s taking a different direction when it comes to his next two projects. The first is the sequel “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” and the next is the highly anticipated “Masters of the Universe,” which has fans climbing the walls for a faithful film adaptation of the Mattel toy line. The 1987 feature film starring Dolph Lundgren fell flat and bombed at the box office. Fans are hoping Chu can bring the realm of Eternia back to its former glory.
Currently, Chu is busy helming the process of dimensionalizing “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” as its March 29th, 2013 release date looms near. Even so, Chu is already looking to his next project, a big-screen version of the iconic ’80s toy property “Masters of the Universe.”
Chu spoke exclusively to Celebuzz via email about this upcoming film, which is being written by Richard Wenk (“The Expendables 2.”)
After G.I. Joe, what prompted Chu’s decision to do another toy-cartoon adaptation?
Jon M. Chu: I was approached about doing a Masters of the Universe movie and while at first I was skeptical, I read the script and I was blown away. I had no idea what to expect but it was such a fresh, UNEXPECTED approach I was immediately intrigued. I never expected to connect on a human level to a MOTU movie but I really plugged in emotionally. That alone, got me excited to see what we could do with the property.
MOTU is such a challenging puzzle to make into a movie that works to a contemporary audience but the script seemed to really crack it for me. I think people are really going to be surprised at the rich story we have the opportunity to tell in this world. Where you think MOTU goes left, the script goes right and it was just very clear to me this was something very special.
It was never a conscious decision to do another “toy” movie but when I read this I couldn’t put it down. And I definitely couldn’t let anyone else make it but myself 🙂 It was just too much fun.
CB: What sort of fan were you of the toy or cartoon series?
Chu: I LOVED the toys growing up. I had Grayskull, I had BattleCat/Cringer, I had Stratos and Orko and obviously He-Man and Skeletor. I also watched the cartoon a lot growing up. This is my era, so going to Mattel to visit their headquarters was like walking into a childhood fantasy. They had a life-sized He-Man in the lobby as well as a glass case with EVERY SINGLE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE action figure on display. It brought me back to my youth and I knew I had to be a part of getting this movie together. For every MOTU fan out there, it felt like it was time and I wanted to make sure to protect it in the process.
CB: Is it a property you feel is wide open for an adaptation, or does the ’80s movie put any pressure on you?
Chu: I feel like there’s a lot of room to crack open the Masters of the Universe story. We are still in our process and I think we have some great seeds planted but making one of these types of movies RIGHT takes a lot of TONAL tight roping so we’re just going to play for the next several months. Play with designs, play with the characters, try new things, maybe go too far on some things and pull back. The process is really important to find where the right line is so we can land right on it. I think that’s what can dig out the properties full potential for a cinematic rebirth.
I don’t really think about the ’80s movie when looking at this movie because the script here is so strong and so unique. I think the characters are so grounded and layered I never expected that in a Masters movie so to me it’s on a totally different level. Don’t get me wrong, I love the ’80s movie for full nostalgic reasons but this script feels like it’s a totally different genre than that one.
CB: How soon are you looking forward to starting?
Chu: I can’t say exactly, but my first priority right now is still G.I. Joe: Retaliation. We are finishing the dimensionalizing of the film and I want the audience to be blown away by the 3D work we do in it so that takes a lot of my time and energy currently. It’s a lot of technical and creative stuff put together which I love. I can’t wait for people to see what we’ve done, finally!
“Masters of the Universe” is currently in development. Richard Wenk will write the screenplay, while Jon M. Chu directs.