Collective Digital Studio has landed exclusive online rights for “Maximum Ride,” the best-selling young adult fantasy franchise from James Patterson, with plans to produce a YouTube miniseries based on the series.
The eight-book “Maximum Ride” series, which has sold more than 30 million copies, centers on six kids who have been genetically modified to be 98% human and 2% bird — giving them wings and the power of flight. Storyline follows the group, led by 14-year-old girl Maximum “Max” Ride, after they escape from the lab facility known as The School and are pursued by their former captors.
Columbia Pictures acquired film rights to “Maximum Ride” in 2008, before the project moved to Universal Pictures. However, a Universal rep said “Maximum Ride” is no longer in development at the studio.
With the film project in limbo, CDS and Patterson are aiming for a faster time-to-market with the YouTube series — hoping to tap into the zeitgeist that have boosted other YA properties like “The Hunger Games” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” while catering to youth-skewing online audiences.
“‘Maximum Ride’ has a massive global fan base and it is very exciting to think about connecting with them online,” Patterson said in a statement. I’m confident that CDS will help introduce the book series to a completely new audience as well.”
“The beauty of YouTube is that fans won’t have to wait forever as we won’t be bogged down by the typical studio development process,” said Gary Binkow, CDS partner and chief content officer. The demand to bring Max and her flock to life as a web series “is something her fans have been asking for, evidenced by the hundreds of fan-made videos already online.”
Among Patterson’s other projects, last week CBS announced a straight-to-series order for “Zoo” based on his sci-fi thriller slated for summer 2015.
Binkow said CDS is in discussions with YouTube talent, including writers, directors and actors, to participate in the “Maximum Ride” series. Exec producers will be Patterson, Binkow, Leopoldo Gout and Bill Robinson.
“This is a way to engage the audience, and promote the book,” which is published by Little, Brown & Co., Binkow said. “We’re not looking to bring (traditional) Hollywood talent and filmmakers into this ecosystem.”
CDS also is in the process of determining which partner channel on YouTube will be the outlet for “Maximum Ride.” The studio has not yet set a budget for the “Maximum Ride” series. But Binkow said the studio would embrace the YouTube filmmaking aesthetic — not only to keep costs down, he said, but to conform to the style YouTube audience expects.
As an example, Binkow cited YouTube clip Superman With a GoPro, which uses aerial photography to simulate the Man of Steel’s flight. “I showed that to James Patterson — he thought that was great,” he said.
L.A.-based CDS, formed in 2011, operates 690 YouTube channels, which it says deliver more than 700 million views per month. In addition, the company has produced TV shows based on YouTube properties for The Annoying Orange, Epic Meal Time and Lucas Cruikshank’s Fred.
Patterson is repped by CAA.