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250px-EtvideogamecoverIt’s fitting that the first documentary slated for Microsoft’s Xbox is about video games. But it sounds like a great story even for non-gamers.

Atari’s “mass burial” of unsold game consoles and cartridges in 1983 is considered by some to be an urban legend, but filmmakers working with Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios will film an effort to excavate the site early next year as the centerpiece of a documentary about the rise and fall of Atari. The pioneering video-game company is believed to have buried “millions” of unsold units of the failed game, “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial,” in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The documentary, to debut on Xbox sometime in 2014, was announced by Microsoft this morning.

It will be the first in a documentary series produced by Xbox in collaboration with Lightbox, a media company led by two-time Academy Award-winning producer producer Simon Chinn (known for films including Searching for Sugar Man and Man on Wire) and Emmy-winning producer Jonathan Chinn (FX’s 30 Days and PBS’s American High).

It’s part of a broader effort by Microsoft to produce original content, following in the footsteps of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Among other projects, Microsoft has a deal with Steven Spielberg (sensing a theme here?) to produce a series based on the Halo franchise.

Xbox Entertainment studios president Nancy Tellem, the veteran television industry exec, said at a Variety conference last week that Microsoft will launch its first original series for the Xbox in the first half of 2014, with the shows viewable on both the Xbox One and the Xbox 360.


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