Max Steel

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  • Directed By: Stewart Hendler
  • Written By: Christopher Yost
  • Release Date: October 14, 2016
  • Domestic Distributor: Open Road
  • Cast: Ben Winchell, Josh Brener, Maria Bello

Box Office Info:
Budget: $20 million (estimated) Financed by: Mattel; Dolphin Films; Ingenious Media
Domestic Gross: $3,818,664 Overseas Gross: $2,453,739

Based on a toy line, Max Steel was in active development back in 2009 at Paramount, but the project never materialized and the rights reverted back to toy company Mattel.  In 2013, Mattel formed an in-house entertainment division called Playground Productions, where they could develop and maintain creative control for Mattel branded movies and TV series and brought the Max Steel property back to life.  Max Steel was co-financed by Mattel, Dolphin Films and the UK based Ingenious Media — which has been beset by investor lawsuits stemming from a tax avoidance scheme.  A deal was struck with Open Road (joint distribution between theater chains Regal and AMC) to handle stateside distribution and it was dated for a 2015 release.

Dolphin Films International, the company’s new international sales arm teamed with IM Global to handle pre-sales to distributors.  $8.2M were generated from the pre-sales.  Max Steel was presented to buyers as the start of a blockbuster franchise and the project sold well throughout Europe and Asia.  In an investor stockholder report, parent company to Dolphin Entertainment, DOLPHIN DIGITAL MEDIA INC reported that they invested $10.4 million into the production of Max Steel and after the 2015 release was delayed, they accrued $800,000 in interest.  The budget has not been reported, but after Dolphin’s investment, plus the pre-sales and additional coin from Mattel and Ingenious, the film’s price tag was estimated to be around $20 million after tax rebates.

Open Road dated Max Steel originally for August 18, 2015 but delayed it into 2016, where it shifted around before being dumped with little fanfare on October 14.  Along with looking cheap and lousy, adding to its limited commercial prospects was the family targeting movie landed a PG-13 rating and Open Road lost the appeal to be granted a PG.  Dolphin secured part of the domestic P&A expenses from a loan and contributed $14.5M into the marketing of the picture.  The film was booked wide into 2,034 theaters and the $8.2M in pre-sales were contingent on the pic landing a domestic wide release.

Max Steel was tracking for a soft $5 million opening and this stinker was not screened for critics.  It bowed against The Accountant and Kevin Hart: What Now?.  It pulled in an awful $2,182,216 — placing #11 for the weekend led by The Accountant and posted one of the worst performances for a film playing in over 2,000 theaters.  Max Steel collapsed 68.8% to $680,104 in its second frame and promptly lost most of its theater count.  It was pulled from release after only three weeks with a domestic cume of $3,818,664.

Max Steel saw a fleeting theatrical release in a handful of offshore markets and grossed a mere $2.4 million.

After the dismal performance of the movie, Dolphin issued a statement to their investors: “Max Steel did not generate sufficient funds to repay either of these loans prior to their respective maturity dates. As a result, if the lenders foreclose on the collateral securing the loans, our subsidiary will lose the copyright for Max Steel.


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