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Xbox-only documentary series to kick off in 2014 with investigation of the Atari E.T. landfill

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Microsoft revealed that it will debut a series of documentary films exclusively for distribution on its Xbox platforms in 2014.

Xbox Entertainment Studios is enlisting the help of the newly conceived media company Lightbox from Man on Wire producer Simon Chinn and producer Jonathan Chinn FX’s 30 Days. Together, Lightbox and Microsoft will release a variety of informative films for Xbox One and Xbox 360 throughout next year.

Lightbox plans to focus on subject matter related to technology.

“Our collaboration with Xbox offers an unparalleled opportunity to make a unique series of films around the extraordinary events and characters that have given rise to the digital age,” Simon Chinn said in a statement. “Our goal is to produce a series of compelling and entertaining docs that will deploy all the narrative techniques of Simon’s and my previous work.”

The first film Lightbox plans to release is a Fuel Entertainment documentary about the fate of terrible Atari movie-licensed game E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Atari printed millions of copies of the game but couldn’t sell them after word spread about its awful gameplay following its release. In 1983, Atari reportedly drove the unsold carts into the desert and buried them outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Filmmaker Zak Penn is directing the documentary, which will attempt to excavate the remains of the cartridges. Penn is a Hollywood writer who helped conceive the story for Marvel’s The Avengers and wrote the screenplay for X-Men: The Last Stand.

“It’s particularly exciting to be partnering with filmmakers like Zak Penn, who come to this process from other filmmaking disciplines and who will bring their own distinctive creative vision to this,” Jonathan Chinn said.

“Jonathan and Simon Chinn are the perfect team to spearhead this series for Xbox. They are consummate story tellers and they plan to match their creative sensibility with the best talent in the industry,” commented Xbox Entertainment Studios president Nancy Tellem. “These stories will expose how the digital revolution created a global democracy of information, entertainment and commerce, and how it impacts our lives every day.”

Shooting on the E.T. excavation film will begin in January. The documentary does not currently have a working title.


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