Avi Arad has got a brand new toy — Robosapien.
Arad, the former Marvel topper and producer of the “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” franchises, has joined forces with Steven Paul’s Crystal Sky Pictures to launch a movie inspired by the best-selling intelligent robot.
Arad and Paul previously teamed on another toy franchise movie, “Bratz,” which is due for wide U.S. release this August. Having screened “Bratz” footage to foreign distribs in Cannes Thursday, they followed up on Friday by pitching their “Robosapiens” projects to the same crowd.
Arad has written the script for “Robosapien” with Max Botkin, and attached “Bratz” helmer Sean McNamara to direct. The $25 million-$30 million live-action/CGI project is scheduled to shoot November in the U.S.
Arad conceives the movie as a new spin on the Gepetto/Pinocchio legend, about a childless inventor who creates a substitute son.
The story concerns a scientist working on artificial intelligence who creates robots for humanitarian purposes, only to discover that the corporation he works for intends them for military use. He steals one of his creations, a robot boy named Toby, who, by a series of accidents, gets lost and broken, and then found and fixed by the lonely 11-year-old son of a harassed single mother.
The robot and boy become friends, and embark on a series of adventures, pursued by the authorities, climaxing with them having to rescue the scientist and the mother from prison.
Arad, whose own background is as a toy inventor, has personally designed Toby as the latest model in the Robosapiens range, to go into shops alongside the movie’s release.
Robosapien was launched in 2004 and has sold over 4 million units worldwide, with distribution in over 70 countries. It has won “toy of the year” awards in several countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany and France, and its innovative AI technology has been featured in numerous museum exhibitions. Over 80 million mini-Robosapien models have been given away this year with McDonald’s Happy Meals.
“With ‘Bratz,’ distributors took a calculated leap of faith with us, and now we’re asking them to do it again,” Arad said. “I go after intellectual properties, whether they are comics, videogames or toys, and it’s about finding the right things with cinematic value, to make movies that have some kind of brand awareness.”