‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ gets new movie turn

“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” is the latest throwback kids property to get a new turn on the big screen, as Lionsgate and licensing entity Saban Brands announced Wednesday that they’ll be developing another live-action movie based on the ’90’s TV powerhouse.

The companies said they will develop the film based on the characters that made the original series popular.

“With an extensive and extremely devoted worldwide fan base as well as a deep and detailed mythology, the Power Rangers are primed for the big screen” the companies said in a statement, adding that the movie, which does not yet have an announced director or screenwriter, “will re-envision the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” They did not say whether there were larger plans beyond a one-off feature.

The color-filled “Power Rangers” franchise centers on an ordinary group of high-schoolers given individual superpowers that can become even more potent if they combine, something they need to do to fight giant robots known as Zords and other antagonists. In some ways, the series echoes “X-Men,” “The Fantastic Four” and “The Avengers” in its look at a diverse superhero ensemble.

“Power Rangers’ has had various screen incarnations -- not to mention owners -- since being launched more than two decades ago.


The original series ran on Fox for three years beginning in 1993 and attracted both a large constituency and plenty of criticism, as parents believed the series too violent for children in elementary school. An almost dizzying number of TV spinoffs and sequels followed, including ‘Lost Galaxy” “Mystic Force,” and, most recently, “Megaforce.”

The franchise has also yielded two films, though none within the last 15 years; the first, in 1995, generated $38 million at the time.

The property has changed hands a number of times, including when Fox Family’s Haim Saban sold the company and the Power Rangers property to Disney a number of years ago.

Lionsgate Chief Executive John Feltheimer said in the statement that “the Power Rangers stories and characters have been embraced by generations of audiences for more than 20 years, and today they are more powerful than ever.”

Still, it remains to be seen how popular the property is with younger viewers. With “G.I. Joe” spinning off two movies and the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” hitting the big screen for another go-round this summer, “Power Rangers” comes in with a well-trod path of youth-oriented movies whose names are more likely to appeal to their target audience’s parents.

Plenty of popular throwback fare has struggled making it to the big screen, as He-Man, Voltron and others have languished in development.

The Power Rangers movie is in part an attempt by Lionsgate to establish global franchises; the mini-major has had success with “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” but doesn’t have the kind of branded content in its arsenal that gives studios a reliable stream of potential blockbuster content, as Disney has with its Marvel Studios characters or Paramount has with Transformers.