By Sahil Patel
Collective Digital Studio has optioned “Maximum Ride,” a bestselling young adult fantasy franchise from author James Patterson. The MCN will have exclusive online rights to the property, with plans to turn it into a YouTube series.
Across eight books, “Maximum Ride” tells the story of six kids who have been genetically modified to be 98% human and 2% bird, and are on the run from their former captors. The series has sold 30 million copies to date.
By optioning the franchise for an online series, Collective Digital Studio hopes to reach the youth-skewing audience on YouTube while also tapping into the appetite for YA content, which has seen a recent box-office boom with hit film adaptations like “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent,” and “The Fault in Our Stars.”
As the adaptation goes into development, CDS will look to work exclusively with YouTube stars. The MCN says it’s already “in discussions with high-level YouTube talent” to participate in the project. Here, CDS has experience — the company helped Freddie Wong produce and distribute three seasons of his hit online series “Video Game High School.”
“Max [the lead protagonist of ‘Maximum Ride’] is a fierce and strong female protagonist who’s desperate to protect her flock,” says Gary Binkow, chief content officer at CDS. “Bringing her to life as an original fantasy web series is something her fans have been asking for, evidenced by the hundreds of fan made videos already online. 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.”
This should be appealing to Patterson, who sold the film rights to “Maximum Ride” to Columbia Pictures in 2008, only to see it handed off to Universal Pictures before dying in development hell.
The online adaptation will be executive produced by Binkow, Patterson, Leopoldo Gout, and Bill Robinson.
CDS says it’s still determining where it will distribute the series on YouTube. A budget is also being finalized.