Have you played Atari today?
Earlier this year it was announced that Atari were set to enter Hollywood with new films based on two of their most popular and historic franchises – Asteroids and Missile Command. It does actually seem quite shocking that this was never thought of back in the early 80s when both games were at their peak of popularity. Not only because the subject matter of both games lend themselves really well to movies (especially Missile Command) but also because Atari were owned at the time by Warner Brothers, one of Hollywood’s biggest movie studios. Not long after this it was also announced that another film was going to be made based on the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, which is a series that was acquired by the company when former owner of the Atari brand, Hasbro Interactive, took over MicroProse in 2001.
Of course Atari had already tested the waters for a film based on classic video games by getting involved in a small capacity with Wreck It Ralph (characters from Crystal Castles, Food Fight and Pong all made cameos) in 2012 and even more so with Adam Sandler’s 2015 movie pixels, which featured a whole segment based on Centipede as well as starring Tempest, Asteroids and Breakout among others. For the Asteroids film Atari are teaming with Universal Studios while Missile Command is being produced by 20th Century Fox, not much else is known about either of these movies at this time. Atari have confirmed though that Sony have appointed Karate Kid and Agent Cody Banks Director Harald Zwart to work on the Roller Coaster Tycoon flick, presumably aiming it at kids.
Now it’s been announced that Atari are also set to enter the world of television too with several new shows based on their classic franchises. The first of these is called Game On and is an unscripted reality-style game show in which contestants navigate through life-sized sets based on classic games from Atari’s library. It’s promised that key elements from each game will play a big part. Atari has also partnered up with Discover for a TV series based on its fairly obscure 1978 Atari 2600 game Codebreaker, which seems a bizarre choice as very few people are likely to remember it. Will be interesting to see how well both the movies and the TV shows do and whether they will lead the way for more ways for Atari to capitalise on their vast back catalogue. Other classic Atari games that seem obvious for the big screen treatment are Haunted House, Star Raiders and Yars’ Revenge.
Success with these projects would see a massive turnaround in fortunes for the current owners of the Atari brand. Since pulling themselves out of bankruptcy in 2013 Atari have focused on making games for the mobile market as well as diversifying into areas such as online gambling, audio equipment, home security, fitness technology and even rap music! The Atari brand has been owned by French company Infogrames since 2001 when they purchased former incumbents Hasbro Interactive. The original Atari are best known for kick starting the whole video games industry in the 70s with arcade games such as Pong and Breakout as well as their best selling Atari 2600 VCS, considered the first mass-market home games console.
What classic Atari games would you like to see turned into movies?