‘Max Steel’ Movie Gets New Life at Open Road Films as Mattel Reboots Toy Line
As Mattel reboots its “Max Steel” franchise with a new line of toys and an animated TV series, the company also has revived plans to produce a live action movie based on the property, with Open Road Films picking up the project to release in theaters late next year.
Dolphin Films, the newly created production banner of Dolphin Entertainment, will produce the film. Project serves as the first film under a multi-picture distribution deal Dolphin has set up with Open Road.
Through the pact, Dolphin will focus on pics aimed at families, tweens, teens and young adults.
“Max Steel” revolves around teenager Maxwell McGrath and alien companion Steel who can combine special turbo-energy powers to generate superhero Max Steel.
Charles Cohen, former chief operating officer of MGM, was recently tapped to run Dolphin’s new film shingle. He most recently was senior advisor for Kirk Kerkorian’s Tracinda Corp.
“During his long tenure at MGM, Charlie Cohen worked on several large properties across multiple platforms, which makes him ideally suited to lead Dolphin Films,” said O’Dowd said. “We couldn’t be happier that Charlie has joined us, as we feel he’s the perfect addition to a stellar cast of experienced executives involved in this partnership.”
Dolphin Entertainment, run by Bill O’Dowd, already focuses on producing TV shows and web series for younger viewers, including Nickelodeon’s “Zoey 101” and “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide,” and Warner Bros. Digital’s “Aim High.”
“Launching our film division has been a natural progression for us,” O’Dowd said. “Along with our established television and digital departments, our theatrical group will complete our goal of having a fully cross-platform production and distribution business,” with Dolphin handling foreign distribution of its films that it will self-finance. The “Max Steel” film is expected to cost around $10 million to $15 million to produce. Dolphin will be at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival to shop the pic to foreign distributors.
Stewart Hendler, who helmed Microsoft’s web series “Halo: Forward Unto Dawn” will direct “Max Steel” based on a script by Christopher Yost (“Thor: The Dark World”). Hendler previously worked with Dolphin on “H+,” another web series for Warner Bros. that Bryan Singer produced.
“Dolphin has an excellent track record in creating family, tween, teen and young adult- focused entertainment,” said Tom Ortenberg, CEO, Open Road Films. “We can’t wait to work with Bill O’Dowd and his team to bring this product to the marketplace.” Open Road will release Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete Kills” in October, followed by “Homefront,” in November, and the animated “The Nut Job” and “Sabotage,” with Arnold Schwarzenegger in January.
“Max Steel” was introduced by Mattel in 1999, and since its launch has involved toys, direct-to-homevid animated movies, videogames and other consumer products.
An animated series aired for a year starting in 2000, but Mattel pulled back on promoting the character in the U.S. shortly after 9/11 given that plots and play patterns were themed around espionage and terrorism that the toymaker considered too dark for kids at the time. The character still proved popular elsewhere, especially in Latin America where it still outsells “Star Wars” and “Transformers.”