Voltron: Defender of the Universe has long been a beloved classic children’s animated series, despite its relatively short run in the 1980s. That was evident with the subsequent specials and attempted revivals, like 1998’s Voltron: The Third Dimension and Netflix’s new animated reboot Voltron: Legendary Defender. Voltron has always been an animated property, however, and the thought of a live-action version of the series about a group of astronauts piloting the giant robot was not even possible until in recent years.
The Voltron live-action movie has been a project in flux for nearly a decade. The success of the first live-action Transformers movie inspired producer Mark Gordon to begin development of Voltron, but the movie ran into a number of fiscal and legal issues. Now, it appears that the production is finally ready to get underway.
According to a new report from Deadline, Universal Studios has inherited the Voltron live-action movie production from their deal to acquire DreamWorks Animation back in April. The production has pegged David Hayter to write the screenplay. Hayter has previously written the first two X-Men movies, as well as the big-screen adaptation of Watchmen. The report noted that Universal would not confirm any other future plans with the project and said that the project is still “up in the air.”
This is far from the birth of the Voltron live-action production. Gordon first announced plans to produce the movie in 2005 without finding a studio or distributor. Twentieth Century Fox-owned New Regency approached a deal to produce the movie in 2007, but a lawsuit in 2008 between World Event Productions and Toei Animations over the rights to produce the movie almost derailed the project entirely. The production nonetheless moved forward, even releasing concept art in 2010, but the production eventually stalled. A bidding war for the movie ensued thereafter in 2011.
Producers on the Voltron animated series recently told Screen Rant at New York Comic-Con 2016 that the movie will be unaffiliated with the original show and its showrunners, unless something changes in the future. The Voltron live-action movie was conceived following the success of the first Transformers, but that franchise is now on its fifth installment (with The Last Knight scheduled for 2017). So high-concept action blockbusters about giant robots are certainly still a viable product for production studios.
With at least three more Transformers movies on the horizon, and a Pacific Rim sequel scheduled for early 2018, giant robot movies could also be on the brink of over-saturation. At some point, fans can only handle so much whiz-bang action and gargantuan gadgetry. But the success of Netflix’s Voltron has affirmed the series’ enduring popularity and, if executed well, a fresh new movie franchise could breathe new life into the genre.
The live-action Voltron is in production but has no timetable for a release date. We’ll be sure to keep you updated when new information comes out.