There's an undeniable appeal – at least from the perspective of studio executives – to bringing established toy brands to the big screen. After all, these characters and stories have a built-in audience already nostalgic about the property in question, and the Transformers series has proven that the formula can translate to billions of dollars at the box office.
A few years back, Mattel was hoping to tap into that market with a film adaptation of the hit Max Steel franchise. Twilight star Taylor Lautner was attached to star, though the young actor ultimately left the project to headline a different toy-based project in Stretch Armstrong (which he also eventually left). The status of the Max Steel film had remained murky at best… until now.
Mattel has announced that it's teaming up with Dolphin Entertainment to bring the Max Steel film to theaters in late 2014. No exact release date or cast has been revealed, though a press release stated that Stewart Hendler will be directing a script by Chrisopher Yost. Hendler previously directed the H+ digital series for Dolphin, and Yost most recently did some rewriting work on Marvel's Thor: The Dark World.
Created in 1999, the Max Steel franchise includes comic books, television series, direct-to-video animated films and video games. It centers on a young teen who combines with an alien life-form to become the turbo-powered superhero known as Max Steel. The new film will reportedly retain the themes of friendship and teamwork that permeated previous versions of the character and "introduce audiences to a new and never-before-seen world of Max Steel."
By that description, it does very much sound like Dolphin and Mattel intend on staying true to the spirit of the character, while perhaps adjusting the premise to appeal to a broader audience. Then again, Dolphin is the company behind tween-friendly series like Zoey 101 and Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. So it's entirely possible that Max Steel will be aiming squarely for that audience.
In fact, the film's best chances of turning a profit could very well lie in targeting a very specific demographic. Films based on toys – with the notable exception of the Transformers franchise and, to a lesser extent, the two G.I. Joe films – haven't fared particularly well at the box office or become runaway successes. Still, with the right team in place, Max Steel certainly has the potential to find an audience.
Do you think Max Steel could make a worthwhile big screen adventure? Sound off in the comments below.
As mentioned above, Max Steel is expected to hit theaters in late 2014. Stay tuned to Screen Rant for further details.