On this day in horror history, Gary Goddard’s Masters of the Universe with Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, and Courteney Cox was released in 1987
Based on the Mattel toy line of the same name, and produced by Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan from a screenplay written by David Odell, the film’s commercial failure contributed to the closure of Cannon Films.
It was a critical and commercial failure, grossing $17 million worldwide against a budget of $22 million, but is now regarded as a classic cult film.
Masters of the Universe was Lundgren’s first leading role following his breakout role in Rocky IV, and he later labeled it as his least favorite film role. Langella however considers Skeletor one of his favorite roles.
Cannon Films planned to produce Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg with Pro surfer Laird Hamilton replacing Dolph Lundgren as He-Man.
The abandoned script followed He-Man, who returns to Earth disguised as a professional quarterback, to battle Skeletor, who has left Earth as a post-apocalyptic wasteland. She-Ra was featured along with Trap Jaw.
Albert Pyun was set to direct the low budget sequel but it was abandoned when Cannon would not pay Mattel’s fees. The production utilized the costumes and sets for the Cyborg with Jean-Claude Van Damme
It stars Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor. Courteney Cox joins them as Julie Winston with Barry Livingston as Charlie, James Tolkan as Detective Hugh Lubic, Christina Pickles as Sorceress, Meg Foster as Evil-Lyn, Chelsea Field as Teela, Jon Cypher as Man-At-Arms, Billy Barty as Gwildor, Robert Duncan McNeill as Kevin Corrigan, Anthony De Longis as Blade, Tony Carroll as Beast Man, Pons Maar as Saurod, Robert Towers as Karg, and Peter Brooks as Narrator.
It begins when the evil Skeletor finds a mysterious power called the Cosmic Key and becomes nearly invincible. However, courageous warrior He-Man locates inventor Gwildor, who created the Key and has another version of it. During a battle, one of the Keys is transported to Earth, where it is found by teenagers Julie and Kevin. Now both He-Man and Skeletor’s forces arrive on Earth searching for the potent weapon.
It sports a 17% on Rotten Tomatoes with a Critics Consensus that reads: Masters of the Universe is a slapdash adaptation of the He-Man mythos that can’t overcome its cynical lack of raison d’etre, no matter how admirably Frank Langella throws himself into the role of Skeletor.