Rosie Clarke Staff Writer
These things don’t always pan out… (Battleship, anyone?) But it looks like Dolphin Entertainment might be onto a winner here!
Max Steel is a hugely popular children’s superhero character that appears in an animated television series of the same name, and features in a rather spectacular line of Mattel toys.
Dolphin Entertainment announced on Wednesday that it has partnered with Mattel to turn Max Steel into a feature-length, live-action film. No doubt they are hoping to have the next big superhero franchise on their hands.
The current Disney series version is about a teenaged superhero who serves to protect the galaxy with the help of his alien BFF. Not gonna lie: it sounds pretty epic.
“There hasn’t been a new superhero in quite a while,” Bill O’Dowd, CEO of Dolphin Entertainment, informed TheWrap. “There’s a lot of appealing elements. It’s a combination of a buddy action comedy coupled with a superhero and teen story. It can be a genuine high school drama like ‘Friday Night Lights’, and you don’t see many of those.”
It definitely has potential. Particularly as superhero films are not traditionally targeted at younger children - whereas this one could be.
“In the indie marketplace there aren’t a lot of PG or PG-13 films and they tend to do a lot better than R-rated films at the box office,” O’Dowd continued. “It’s a specific niche, but we think there are broad opportunities when it comes to producing movies for young adults.”
Plus, with such terrific people on board already, we should definitely keep an eye out. Christopher Yost (Thor: The Dark World) has signed on to write the screenplay and Stewart Hendler (Sorority Row) is set to direct the film, which is expected to hit theaters in 2014.
Next year’s Max Steel release will mark the first multi-picture deal Dolphin Entertainment has made with Open Road Films. The two companies announced this week that they are looking to produce two to three films per year. Each film will be budgeted between $5 million and $25 million.
Interestingly, they have made the decision to focus all these films on the teenage market. If Max Steel is to be successful though, they will need to work on making the character seem more grown up, as at the moment we think the film will suit children better.
“Our goal has always been about strengthening the character and taking time to develop the origin story,” producer, Julia Pistor explains. “It’s very character driven, it’s not all about the whiz bang sort of thing. There’s a compelling story that’s worth telling over 90 minutes of screen time.”
The character already has a strong following of kids enamored by the Disney cartoon and toys, which will help boost ticket sales next year for sure.
Mattel released a new series of Max Steel toys in August, something that the Senior Vice President of Global Brands Marketing, Doug Wadleigh said, “is the cornerstone of how kids build a relationship with this relatable superhero.”
Wadleigh also swooned about Mattel’s new partnership with Dolphin Entertainment, “There was a creative synergy we had between their team and our team and a vision for where this property could go. They were able to bring this concept to the screen quicker than anyone else we were considering working with.”
It seems a film development has been in the works for a while now as the company admitted a script was ordered over a year ago when they began searching for a producing partner who could bring Max Steel to the silver screen as quickly as possible.
It’s too soon to see data on how well the toys are selling the US and Europe, but Max Steel merchandise has certainly captured the heart of Latin America, where Max Steel figurines have been the top selling boy’s toys for more than a decade.
This could mean massive filmic success for the brand, as the Hispanic population continues to grow domestically and continue to become disproportionately avid cinema goers.
Our guess is that we’ll be seeing plenty more of Max Steel in the next few years.