Voltron: Defender of the Universe Sparks a Bidding War
News of Voltron: Defender of the Universe coming to theater screens has been kicking around for quite sometime, but now it seems the proposed live action-CGI adaptation of the popular animated series may becoming a reality. As a bidding war for franchise rights has begun, with Relativity Media leading the charge.
World Events Productions is the company behind the original 1984 program that featured iconic robotic lions and their human pilots who would gather to form the gigantic Voltron. Atlas Entertainment had been developing a screenplay, written by Conan the Barbarian's Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, for quite sometime. Many fans thought the project was dead. With various different production companies currently vying for the rights, it looks like Voltron: Defender of the Universe will actually be heading into production very soon.
One of the reasons Voltron: Defender of the Universe has taken so long to reach the big screen is because creator Peter Keefe compiled the original show from two different Japanese anime series, editing them together so that they would pass US broadcast standards. The show became a huge over-night hit, but Toei Animation, who produced the two original series from which Voltron was edited, wanted their share of the profits. Whenever Voltron: Defender of the Universe got rolling at a Hollywood studio, Toei Animation would want to be payed.
World Events Productions eventually bought Toei out of the equation, and in 2000 a theatrical adaptation of the series started to move forward. Producer Mark Gordon set out to make an animated feature film at 20th Century Fox, with pre-production lasting from 2005 to 2007. That deal fell apart when Toei once again came seeking money, claiming their original deal did not include a feature film.
This discrepancy was only recently worked out, and World Events Productions now has a brand-new Voltron cartoon premiering on Nicktoons in May.
If Relativity Media acquires the rights to make the big screen version of Voltron, it is not clear if they will distribute it themselves, or if they will co-produce with Paramount Pictures, who own Nicktoons. Development on the feature is moving along, and its likely that the film will be in theaters by 2013 or 2014, just in time for Voltron: Defender of the Universe's 30th birthday.