'Tetris' Bizarre Origin Is Getting A Film (And Might Be Really Good)
It has now become a trope for Hollywood to take an old video game or board game and make it into a movie by loosely tying the semblance of a story around in-game references and box-art covers. Battleship, for example, is essentially 50% a guessing game dressed up with a naval motif and plastic pegs and 50% cleaning up those pegs from the living room carpet after grandpa knocks his game board off the table in a rage. Meanwhile, Battleship (the film) is about the Navy dealing with an alien invasion, and a studio dealing with wildly misplaced box-office expectations.
So, when you see that a Tetris movie is coming to theaters you might expect it to tell the tale of Blocky, the "L" shaped block that wages intergalactic battle against an "s" shaped block uprising. But that's not what is happening. The upcoming Tetris movie actually might be good because it's not about the game itself. It's around the circumstances and legal battle surrounding the game.
A quick overview: Software engineer Alexey Pajitnov created Tetris (a portmanteau of "tennis" and "tetra") in 1984 while working for the Dorodnitsyn Computing Centre of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He shared the game with his coworkers, and they copied it onto floppy discs to share with their friends. The game went viral before viral was even a thing, spreading all across Moscow and even into a software exhibit in the Hungarian Institute of Technology.
It is there that UK citizen and owner of Andromeda Software Ltd., Robert Stein found the game. He wanted to license it to distributors in the US and UK, so he went to Russia to make a deal. Unfortunately for Pajitnov, in Soviet Russia, the game plays you. Pajitnov didn't own the rights to Tetris, the game instead, falling under the purview of Elektronorgtechnica, a soviet agency created to oversee the distribution of their software to foreign countries.
Pajitnov lost out on an estimated $40 million dollars and would later attempt to reclaim that money after immigrating to the United States and there you have our movie. (Probably. Details are still sparse) It could be like The Social Network meets the Cold War, but also the protagonist doesn't seem like a psychopath and also, also, the good guy is Russian and played by the dude from Kingsman, Rocketman, and Robin Hoodman.
It looks awesome and fascinating is what we're saying and it is made all the more intriguing considering you could have expected the Tetris movie to be about a guy shooting alien blocks out of the sky that came to conquer Earth. Wait, that almost actually was a thing in 2016?
Damn, why can't we have both?
Support Dan on Twitter and he will talk about his life with you in lieu of getting a therapist.
Top Image: PXHere, The Tetris Company