Atari movie to star DiCaprio

Paramount Pictures has given the nod to making a movie about the life and times of Nolan Bushnell, the outspoken founder of the company.


Another video game movie is reported to be in the works--but this one is about the industry itself. According to Variety, Paramount has said yes to a pitch for a film imaginatively titled Atari, set to star Leonardo DiCaprio as main man Nolan Bushnell.

The movie is a biopic about the Atari founder and has been written by Brian Hecker and Craig Sherman. The pair managed to convince Bushnell that they could "do his unique story justice" although various others had been competing for the rights.

Bushnell, who was born in 1943, is one of the founding fathers of the video game industry. In 1971 he founded a company called Syzygy with his colleague Ted Dabney. The bizarre name is an astronomical term which refers to the alignment of three or more celestial bodies in a straight line. In 1972, the duo discovered that--unbelievably--Syzygy was already in use by a roofing company, and rebranded themselves Atari--a reference to an attacking position in the Chinese board game Go.

Perhaps the most famous Atari-developed game is Pong in 1972, an electronic version of table tennis. The company also produced early consoles, including the incredibly successful Atari 2600. In 1976, Bushnell sold Atari to Warner Communications, and left the division in 1979. However, Atari fell on troubled times, and today exists as a subdivision of Infogrames.

Bushnell himself has gone on the found more than 20 companies, including Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre, Catalyst Technologies Venture Capital Group, and "interactive entertainment restaurant chain" uWink.

Recently, he has been quite vocal about his feelings about the modern games industry. He has called current games "pure, unadulterated trash," Sony "arrogant and capricious," and added that he thought some titles on the market are "truly despicable."

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