Paramount was once set to adapt Mattel‘s popular Max Steel toy line into a live-action pic with Twilight‘s Taylor Lautner to star. Instead Mattel will now team up with Dolphin Entertainment and Open Road to bring the action figure franchise to the big screen. Max Steel centers on teen Maxwell McGrath who with his alien companion Steel combines forces to become the eponymous superhero. Christopher Yost (Thor: The Dark World) will script. Stewart Hendler (Sorority Row, Halo: Forward Unto Dawn) is attached to direct after helming and exec producing the award-winning digital series H+ for Dolphin Entertainment and WB.
Max Steel first hit the small screen as an animated series in 2000 in a three-season run under Netter Digital and Foundation Imaging, and later Mainframe Entertainment. Nine direct-to-video animated films followed between 2004 and 2012 mostly released in Latin America where Max Steel is a bestseller. A rebooted animated series premiered in the U.S. and internationally on Disney XD in March, reviving stateside interest in the property. The live-action pic will be the first in a multi-picture distribution pact with Open Road Films, which will give Max Steel a U.S. release in late 2014. Bill O’Dowd will produce the pic alongside Mattel’s Julia Pistor.
The deal between Open Roads and newly established Dolphin Entertainment subsidiary Dolphin Films will focus on family-, teen-, and young adult content under ex-MGM COO Charles Cohen, who’s been appointed President of Dolphin Films. Previous Dolphin Entertainment screen properties include Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101 and Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, digital series H+ for Bryan Singer, and the WB Digital web series Aim High. Ken Deutsch of O’Melveny and Myers negotiated the deal on behald of Dolphin with Tom Ortenberg, Elliott Kleinberg, general counsel and executive vice president of Operations and Business Affairs, and Ben Cotner, SVP of Acquisitions on behalf of Open Road Films. The initial Dolphin and Mattel introduction was facilitated by CAA.