Though the books are beloved and bestselling, an adaptation of James Patterson’s YA Maximum Ride series is currently languishing in development. Columbia Pictures originally snapped up rights to adapt the novels, only to eventually lose them to Universal. However, Universal recently stated that it no longer had immediate plans to adapt Maximum Ride either. So, with the film’s development currently in limbo, Patterson has teamed with Collective Digital Studio to turn the books into a YouTube series.
Patterson and CDS are aiming to fast-track the web series and tap into the same massive audience that made The Hunger Games and Divergent such hits – albeit on a much smaller budget. “Maximum Ride has a massive global fan base and it is very exciting to think about connecting with them online, said Patterson in an official statement. “I’m confident that CDS will help introduce the book series to a completely new audience as well.”
Maximum Ride, an eight-book series, centers on a teenager named Max, a tomboy who appoints herself the leader of a six-person “flock” of kids who, like her, have been genetically modified to be 98% human and 2% bird. When they’re threatened by the scientists who created them, Max and the others use their wings, and subsequent ability to fly, to escape their facility and go on the run.
CDS’ Gary Binkow told TheWrap:
“The book has tons of fans online, tons of fan videos on YouTube and I knew James Patterson was an entrepreneurial guy. This is a great opportunity for him to create an alternate piece of content to help promote the book and invigorate the series while the movie is languishing with studios and dealing with typical development shit.”
In a more official statement, Binkow said:
“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. [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.”
Neither Binkow nor Patterson want to involve traditional Hollywood talent – they’re instead hoping to enlist YouTube talent, including amateur writers, directors and actors. The series will embrace the YouTube filmmaking aesthetic, which will also serve to keep the budget extremely low. If you want an idea of what Maximum Ride could look like, check out “Superman with a Go-Pro.” According to Binkow, Patterson thought that clip was “great.”
Though it’s exciting to see that Maximum Ride will get some kind of adaptation, a part of me doesn’t think YouTube is the right environment to do it in. Sure, maybe Netflix or another streaming site could have mounted a visually impressive adaptation, but I’m not sure if I buy what Binkow or Patterson are doing here as a serious adaptation to please fans. It seems more like a fun side-project until a larger studio actually gets its shit together and is able to oversee a big-budget film.
What do you think? Is YouTube a good home for Maximum Ride, or would you rather see Max and her flock evade their captors in theaters?