NEWS - Tuesday, March 5, 2002


Microsoft Eyeing TV & Movie deals

LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) --- Microsoft Games Studio has engaged CAA to pitch the software giant’s popular PC and Xbox (news - web sites) game franchises for potential TV and movie deals.

Five CAA members recently spent a day at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus looking at 30 upcoming Xbox and PC games.

In light of the gaming industry’s $9.4 billion domestic take last year -- a transition year that saw the launch of three gaming systems -- Microsoft has enlisted CAA to give some of the brightest minds of the gaming community access to the powers that be in Hollywood.

"We think that there’s potential for great new content for TV and film from Microsoft Game Studios, especially with Xbox content," CAA partner Bryan Lourd said. "Not every game will translate to traditional entertainment, but we’re now in a position to marry the right game with the proper director and producer very early in the game’s development cycle. The big push from movie studios is that they want tentpole films with sequel potential, and Xbox content offers many possibilities."

Microsoft is spending $500 million to market Xbox worldwide. With the CAA deal, Microsoft executives seem to be operating under the assumption that building game franchises is crucial to success.

"We don’t understand Hollywood," Microsoft Games Studios general manager Stuart Mulder said. "We’re the wrong people to try to make movie or TV deals. CAA has a network of contacts, and they’re the right people to be in the driver’s seat."

Lourd said CAA might be working with additional video game companies in the near future.

"A good idea is a good idea," Lourd said. "I think we’ll see traditional Hollywood turning to game creators because this global creative group is full of amazing ideas. In creating these games, developers go to great lengths in developing complex characters with individual histories and massive universes."

There has been interest in such Microsoft properties as Bungie Software’s Xbox sci-fi action epic "Halo," which has sold more than 800,000 units, and Ensemble Studios’ "Age of Empires" real-time strategy PC game, a franchise that has sold more than 10 million units worldwide.

John Jordan, director of business development at Microsoft Games Studio, said Microsoft is in negotiations with DreamWorks to turn "Crimson Skies," a PC video game franchise expected to expand to Xbox, into a feature film. Because those negotiations began before the recent deal, CAA won’t be a part of them.

"We look at film, entertainment and other licensing opportunities like toys and comic books as an extension of building strong game franchises," Jordan said. "We will work with CAA to help find ways to expand our great gaming properties into Hollywood entertainment and use their advice on how to build our portfolio."

CAA’s Larry Shapiro said: "We’re aggressively getting our clients involved in the video game business and are picking up more game clients. If you look at Hollywood, every studio currently has some type of relationship with a game publisher."
Source: http://www.yahoo.com/

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