Filming began on April 29, 2014, in Wilmington, North Carolina and wrapped in late May 2014. Dolphin Films and Mattel Playground Productions co-produced the film. The film was released in the United States on October 14, 2016, by Open Road Films and was a critical and commercial failure.
Max Steel is an in-depth "origin" story. The plot chronicles the adventures of teenage Max McGrath who lost his father & has been living with his mother and moving from town to town. Finally they reached back to their old place, and alien companion Steel, who is symbiotically bonded and who utilizes a unique form of esoteric energy to become the turbo-charged superhero Max Steel. As these two unlikely friends struggle to accept their oddly connected fates, they begin to uncover unimaginable secrets, working together to find the truth, and fighting the mysterious forces threatening their world.Ben Winchell as Maxwell "Max" McGrath / Max Steel
Josh Brener as the voice of Steel
Ana Villafañe as Sofia Martinez
Andy García as Dr. Miles Edwards
Maria Bello as Molly McGrath
Mike Doyle as Jim McGrath
Billy Slaughter as Agent Murphy
An early attempt to create a Max Steel film occurred in December 2009 when Paramount Pictures purchased the rights to the franchise. Taylor Lautner was an early choice for the starring role, although he would later drop out due to commitment to the Stretch Armstrong film. In January 2013, production was suspended when Max Steel was developed into a television series of the same name in 2013. In August 2013, plans for a new film adaptation resumed with Mattel partnering with Dolphin Entertainment to fund the film.
In February 2014, Ben Winchell and Ana Villafañe were cast Max McGrath and Sofia Martinez, respectively. In April 2014, Billy Slaughter was cast as Agent Murphy. That same month, the press officially confirmed Andy García's casting as Dr. Miles Edwards. In May 2014, Maria Bello and Mike Doyle joined the cast as Molly and Jim McGrath, Max's parents.
Principal photography commenced on April 29, 2014, in Wilmington, North Carolina, and ended on May 31, 2014.
Max Steel grossed $3.8 million in the United States and Canada and $2.5 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $6.3 million, against a production budget of $10 million.
Max Steel opened on October 14, 2016, alongside The Accountant and Kevin Hart: What Now?, and was expected to gross $5–7 million from 2,034 theaters in its opening weekend. After grossing just $637,795 on its first day the film went on to open to $2.2 million, finishing 11th at the box office. In its second weekend the film grossed $680,104 finishing 17th at the box office.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 0% based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 2.5/10. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score 22 out of 100, based on reviews from 7 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
IGN critic Alex Welch gave the film a score of 4 out of 10, summarizing his review with: "Max Steel is one of the more forgettable and pointless attempts at a superhero franchise in the current post-MCU Hollywood market, lacking any of the originality or vibrance that could give it even a remote shot at a successful future." Variety's Joe Leydon gave a negative review, describing it as: "A half-baked, time-wasting curtain-raiser for a superhero franchise that is never, ever going to happen." Christy Lemire for RogerEbert.com gave half a star out of 4, writing: "For a movie about developing the greatest energy source in the universe, Max Steel is surprisingly bland" and that "a movie based on a toy should be a whole lot more fun than this." The Hollywood Reporter critic Frank Scheck gave an unfavorable review, writing: "Even tweens may find themselves underwhelmed by the new live-action film based on what — for many of them — may be their favorite Mattel action figure. Delivering a bland cinematic origin story which seems calculated to boost Christmas toy sales, Max Steel is a stillborn, would-be franchise starter, sneaked into multiplexes without advance critic screenings."
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released Max Steel on Digital HD on January 3, 2017, then released the movie on Blu-ray/DVD on January 10, 2017.