Max Steel: Mattel Action Figure into Movie

July 13, 2009–Paramount is teaming with Joe Roth to pick up Mattel's “Max Steel” as another action figure it wants to play with on the bigscreen.  “Max Steel” will be the first picture Mattel has set up at Paramount since it began aggressively looking to turn its toys into features.

The toy property centers on a 19-year-old sports junkie recruited by a secret agency after an accident infects his body with nanobots, making him superhuman.

Mattel introduced the character in the U.S. in 1999 as an action figure, and soon after in an animated series that ran from 2000-2002.  He wants to use movies as a way to relaunch the toy line in the U.S. and the rest of the world, the way the “Transformers” pics have helped generate new heat around Hasbro's action figures.

Joe Roth, who is a producer on Tim Burton's “Alice in Wonderland” at Disney, and produced last summer's “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army,” will serve as executive producer on “Max Steel,” with Waldo and Tim Kilpin, a Mattel senior VP in charge of the company's top brands for boys and girls.

The Max Steel character has similarities to the “XXX” franchise, which Roth launched while head of Revolution Studios. The Xander Cage character in the first film was an extreme sports athlete turned spy.

Mattel and Roth are seeking a screenwriter and director, who will work closely with the toymaker to develop the film's characters and storyline to match the company's plans for the franchise.

Mattel has “He-Man: Masters of the Universe” and “Hot Wheels” at Warner with Joel Silver producing; “Major Matt Mason” with Tom Hanks; and a musical based on a monster property at Universal that Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are overseeing.  A “View-Master” movie is also in the works at DreamWorks, with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman producing.