Dolphin Entertainment, Inc. and Mattel, Inc. just officially announced that they are developing a live-action, feature-length film “Max Steel” based on Mattel’s franchise property of the same name. The film will be produced by Dolphin Films, a newly-formed subsidiary of Dolphin Entertainment. Open Road Films will distribute “Max Steel” in the U.S. as the first of a multi-picture agreement with Dolphin Films. The film will be given a wide release in theaters in the fourth quarter of 2014.
“Today marks the beginning of an exciting new relationship between Dolphin Entertainment and Mattel, two companies that have consistently worked to delight and entertain children all over the world,” said Bill O’Dowd, CEO, Dolphin Entertainment. “We couldn’t think of a better property to kick off Dolphin’s feature film division than Max Steel, which tells a story of the power of friendship and teamwork, with a heavy dose of humor – all qualities we hope to bring to our partnership with the Mattel team.”
Dolphin Films’ multi-picture agreement with Open Road Films will focus on motion pictures aimed at families, tweens, teens and young adults, which is a strategy that aligns closely with Dolphin and O’Dowd’s history delivering television and digital programming to those demographics.
"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.”
“Launching our film division has been a natural progression for us. 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,” added O’Dowd. “Open Road Films was the first choice for our theatrical partner as Tom Ortenberg, Elliott Kleinberg and Jason Cassidy are not only accomplished in the theatrical distribution business, but also true gentlemen.”
Created internally by Mattel, the Max Steel™ franchise spans multi-platform entertainment, toys and consumer products. In development with Dolphin Entertainment the feature-length film will introduce audiences to a new and never-before-seen world of Max Steel.
“Teaming with Dolphin Entertainment and top Hollywood creative talent to write, produce and direct the feature film, Max Steel will excite and engage audiences around the world,” said Doug Wadleigh, Senior Vice President, Global Brands Marketing. “Max Steel’s debut on the big screen is the next evolutionary step for the franchise utilizing a live-action theatrical format to truly personify the brand.”
Bill O’Dowd will produce the film alongside kid’s entertainment veteran Julia Pistor who is producing for Mattel. Pistor’s storytelling and production expertise spans over two-decades with extensive work in television, film and syndication for premier global entertainment companies including Nickelodeon, HIT Entertainment and Viacom Enterprises.
“Max Steel is an action-packed, character-driven story that fits perfectly into the creative movie-making mold,” said Pistor. “We have assembled a world-class team in bringing Christopher and Stewart to the project and collectively will tell the origin story of Max Steel in an authentic, visually compelling way.”
“Max Steel” tells the story of teenager Maxwell McGrath and alien companion Steel who can combine special turbo-energy powers to generate sensational superhero Max Steel. The storyline centers on bringing a positive and relatable hero to kids, drawing upon turbo-charged teamwork, laughter and friendship.
“Max Steel” writer Christopher Yost most recently rewrote and did the production work on “Thor: The Dark World” for Marvel and director Alan Taylor. He also wrote the superhero adventure “Secret Headquarters” for Paramount and Stuber Pictures. Previously, Yost was a member of Marvel's Writers Program, where he worked on the first “Thor.” “Max Steel” director Stewart Hendler recently directed and executive produced “H+,” a digital series for Dolphin Entertainment and Warner Brothers Entertainment, winning a Best Director award and sharing in a Best Sci-Fi or Action Series award at The 2013 Streamy Awards. Hendler also recently completed work on the award-winning digital series “Halo: Forward Unto Dawn.” Between them, “Halo” and “H+” have garnered 24 industry nominations, thus far. He also manages an active feature film career, having directed the studio features “Whisper” and “Sorority Row,” as well as developing several large-scale studio projects.
Dolphin Entertainment has a long history delivering television and digital programming to children and young adults. Dolphin’s programs can be seen in more than 300 million homes in over 100 territories worldwide. Dolphin Entertainment shows include the Primetime Emmy® Award-nominated Nickelodeon hit series “Zoey 101,” Nickelodeon’s top-rated “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide,” and in partnership with Warner Bros Digital both AOL/Cambio distributed series “Aim High” starring Jackson Rathbone and Aimee Teegarden, and YouTube distributed “H+: The Digital Series” from Bryan Singer.
O’Dowd has appointed Charles Cohen, former COO of MGM Studios, to serve as President of the newly-formed Dolphin Films. With Cohen at the helm, Dolphin Films will produce all theatrical projects for Dolphin Entertainment. Cohen is a 25-year veteran of MGM Studios, who most recently held the position of senior advisor for Kirk Kerkorian’s Tracinda Corporation.
“I’m thrilled with this opportunity, as there is a tremendous void in the marketplace of independently produced films aimed at families and younger audiences,” said Cohen. “The wealth of experience that Dolphin brings from the television, digital, branding, licensing and merchandising worlds will help accelerate the creation of franchise properties within our feature film division.”
“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,” added O’Dowd. “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.”
The Dolphin Films/Open Road Films deal was negotiated by Ken Deutsch of O’Melveny and Myers for Dolphin and Tom Ortenberg, Elliott Kleinberg, general counsel and executive vice president of Operations and Business Affairs, and Ben Cotner, senior vice president of Acquisitions on behalf of Open Road Films. The introduction of Dolphin and Mattel was facilitated by CAA.