Universal Pictures has set Fake Empire‘s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage to write and produce their live-action Monster High movie, based on the Mattel doll franchise. The brand is centered on the imperfect teen children of the world’s most famous monsters with characters like Frankie Stein (daughter of Frankenstein), Clawdeen Wolf (daughter of the Wolfman), and Deuce Gorgon (son of Medusa). The franchise, created in 2010, has already yielded several Nickelodeon TV specials, YA novels, webisodes, and an animated direct to DVD movie. Schwartz and Savage will produce the big screen adaptation for Fake Empire with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Mattel’s Playground Productions is exec producing the project. Zadan and Meron are the ones who first brought the global $1.4B entertainment, publishing, games, and apparel brand to Universal. VP of production Maradith Frenkel and creative executive Chloe Yellin will oversee for the studio. Schwartz and Savage are repped by WME and attorney Joel McKuin. Zadan, Meron, and Mattel are repped by CAA.
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.
A Max Steel movie still hasn’t gotten off the ground, but the brand is making a comeback. Mattel is set to relaunch the action property in March with a 26-episode animated series premiering in the U.S. on Disney XD, and a worldwide rollout in over 100 territories. Mattel is co-producing with FremantleMedia Enterprises which will handle overseas rights. The Max Steel line of action figures was originally introduced in the U.S. in 1999, but Mattel pulled back on the brand domestically following 9/11, EVP for global brands, Tim Kiplin, told the NYT. It nevertheless became a huge hit in Latin America and the toymaker now sees an opportunity to establish a major new franchise grounded in multimedia. The reboot will include the Disney TV series, a live-action short movie, an online content hub, mobile games, graphic novels, toys and other products. The original concept of the brand has also been tweaked to make Max younger and more relatable to boys who see the teen hero and his alien companion, Steel, combine their turbo energy and heightened intellect to create the ultimate superhero. If the reboot clicks, perhaps it will light a fire under the bigscreen version that was originally set up at Paramount in 2009. Hit the jump for Mattel’s press release:
BURBANK, Calif. — Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP), with DC Entertainment, announced today that it has extended its successful relationship with leading worldwide toy manufacturer, Mattel, Inc. The new multi-year agreement allows Mattel to continue as master toy licensee for the complete universe of DC Comics characters. Under the terms of this strategic alliance, Mattel is granted unprecedented access to the complete breadth and scope of the DC Comics vault of characters, which includes more than a thousand world-famous DC Comics Super Heroes and DC Comics Super Villains, such as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and The Joker. Further, the agreement includes popular characters such as The Flash, Aquaman, Shazam!, Green Arrow and Hawkman.
U.S. toy manufacturer Mattel has bought HIT Entertainment, the debt-laden UK children’s toy licensing company behind Thomas the Tank Engine, for $680 million in cash. That’s around $20 million less than owner Apax Partners had wanted for it, I understand, and around $200 million short of the $890 million that Apax paid for the company back in 2005. The deal gives Mattel a foothold in the television business as the Thomas & Friends TV show airs in more than 20 languages worldwide. Rival toymaker Hasbro already has its own production and distribution arm, Hasbro Studios, and owns joint venture kids network The Hub with Discovery Communications. Given the tight regulations governing toy manufacturers making TV shows in Europe, it remains to be seen how Mattel will fare if it pitches new programs featuring its toys to public broadcasters.
Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con For Deadline:
WEDNESDAY PM: If there’s a recession going on, you wouldn’t know it from the looks of Comic-Con. While last year’s exhibit hall featured recycled set-pieces and props we’d seen a time …
I’ve just heard that CAA is signing QVC as a client. That’s after WME already signed HSN. So add home shopping to what already is the toy warfront when CAA signed Mattel. But after WME signed Hasbro.