Earlier this week, "Voltron" fans' hopes for a live-action movie based on the popular cartoon and toy line were dashed by a report indicating that the project had been scrapped in favor of a new, "edgier" animated series and toy deal.
However, the reports of Voltron's big-screen death have been greatly exaggerated, according to producers of the film, and plans to bring the Defender of the Universe to theaters are still moving forward.
In an exclusive interview with MTV News, "Voltron" producers Richard Suckle and Ted Koplar confirmed that the project is not only still happening, but they're about to make a big announcement, too!
MTV NEWS: So, right at the start, let's clear up any confusion regarding the live-action "Voltron" movie. Where is it at, and what do you have planned?
TED KOPLAR: Well, Voltron is one of the great iconic brands from the '80s, and a lot of people don't know this but in its heyday it outperformed The Transformers. ... We've had a lot of interest over the last couple of years in bringing back this franchise, and the movie has always been and still is the locomotive that's driving our thinking. All this serves as a staging platform for the motion picture.
RICHARD SUCKLE: As a matter of fact, we've been working over the last several months meeting with various screenwriters, and we're actually on the cusp of securing an A-level screenwriter who's going to write the "Voltron" movie. That's all part of the plan here: reintroducing the brand to the fans who've watched over the last 25 years and to a new generation. We are very close to securing a screenwriter who's going to actually write the feature version — so that's always been part of the plan.
MTV: This project has been in development for a long time now, with some starts and stops along the way. What have the difficulties been in bringing it to the big screen? Have there been some stumbling blocks, or a certain element of the project that you've really been taking your time with?
KOPLAR: The story's been the critical part — that we come in with the right message for both the new generation and for the old generation. We've had some takes, but I think we're getting close.
SUCKLE: In any situation when you have a famous piece of intellectual property, there's always a responsibility and an expectation, but I don't think there's ever been a real stumbling block.
MTV: Well, there's been some earlier drafts of the script, including one from Justin Marks that I know of. You mentioned that you're bringing on a new screenwriter, so are you starting from scratch or building on an existing script?
SUCKLE: We are [starting from scratch]. As far as Atlas Entertainment, we've never been involved in any of the previous versions, so I can't speak to them. We came in and said we want to talk about the property and build it from the ground up, because we have a particular way we want to approach it.
MTV: Can you tell me a little about that approach? Are you envisioning a big-budget, effects-driven blockbuster? 3-D, maybe? What's your vision for the film?
SUCKLE: Those are all things we've talked about, but as much as it has a very strong robot element, this is a movie and a franchise that is driven by characters — these five people that in some or another are a representation of all of us. It's really about how you have five different personalities working together in order to come together to form Voltron.
KOPLAR: The whole show is about teamwork — about a group of kids with various backgrounds who learn that the only way they'll succeed is through the positive parts of each one's background and bringing it together to make the robot work.
SUCKLE: It's not like we're doing anything far different from the source material other than to make it a character-driven film. The effects, the 3-D... The eye candy is the easy part. It's got to be a movie that has really dynamic, interesting characters and a really strong narrative. You know the eye candy is going to be there, because it's part of the fabric of the original material.
So that character-driven element is really what we're focusing on, and that's what the writers that we've been talking to have been told about what we want and what we're looking for.
MTV: Do you have a timeline in mind for the live-action film? Are there certain marks you want to hit in the roll-out of the "Voltron" universe?
SUCKLE: You never can tell, but I think that if we're lucky going into 2011, and in a perfect world, if we could have a "Voltron" movie sometime in the summer of 2013, that would be what I would consider a very likely timeline.
MTV: There's mention of the new animated series receiving an "edgier" update, but what about the film?
SUCKLE: To me, you have to update it and give it a fresh coat of paint for 2010-2011 and beyond. At the same time, it's important to have those certain nostalgic elements. It's not that we have to hit those moments over the head, but there should be stuff within the visuals — if not also in the dialogue and the references — that make those people who grew up watching the show feel like we are taking great care to both satisfy you and introduce new stuff that feels like it lives organically in the 25 years Voltron has existed.
MTV: You said you're about to name a new writer, but what about a director? How close are you?
SUCKLE: We've had a lot of inquiries, because there are a lot of fans who grew up with the show and see the potential like we do, but it would be premature for me to name any names.
MTV: Will there be any crossover between the animated series and the live-action film?
KOPLAR: Our hope is that the group of people we have are open to everybody sharing ideas, thoughts, whatever it is.
SUCKLE: It's important that all these pieces are working together, because it is a specific plan that we want to realize. The cartoon, the new show, the Mattel deal — they're just sort of springboards to ultimately what will be the feature. It's always been about driving the feature.
KOPLAR: All these component parts are going to come together like Voltron.
Keep it locked to Splash Page for more "Voltron" movie news as it develops. Until then,
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