Bruckheimer in the game
Producer inks exclusive with MTVJerry Bruckheimer has inked an exclusive deal with MTV Games that will see the prolific film and TV producer develop original video games.
As part of the deal, the producer will build a game incubation studio with MTV Games in Santa Monica. Output could extend to product for leading consoles like Nintendo Wii to platforms including mobile and virtual worlds.
The uber-producer arrives at MTV after what insiders say was several years of searching for an entity willing to put up the risk capital that would back an output deal on par with film or TV pacts. Viacom's MTV was willing to try something broader than the standard licensing deals Bruckheimer has struck in the past. Bruckheimer has overall deals in place for film at Disney and television at Warner Bros.
Bruckheimer's entrance into the gaming world marks the highest-profile infiltration from traditional Hollywood circles since Steven Spielberg pacted with Electronic Arts in 2005. The converging worlds of film and gaming have since generated more than a few crossovers, from Peter Jackson to Clive Barker.
Bruckheimer, who has generated some of the biggest franchises in film ("Pirates of the Caribbean") and TV ("CSI"), drew comparisons with the visual language of his films in explaining what drew him to the games sector.
"If you look at our movies, at least the stuff that we've done in everything from 'Pearl Harbor' to 'Armageddon' to 'Top Gun' to 'Black Hawk Down,' and you look at the angles, the shots and concepts, you see a lot of similarities to games," he said.
While neither side was revealing many details, including whether the intellectual property coming out of the partnership will be co-owned, both stressed the agreement will not impact existing deals Bruckheimer has in place with Disney and Warners.
Jeff Yapp, MTV Networks executive vp programming enterprises, envisions some projects spawning traditional entertainment extensions. "Anything that we develop in this venture absolutely we have rights for movies and for television," he said.
MTV Games only recently launched its first game, Rock Band, which was developed by its subsidiary Harmonix and has generated strong reviews and sales this holiday season. But parent company MTV Networks seems intent on creating a splash in the space, having announced in August that it will invest more than $500 million over the next two years in interactive entertainment and video games.
Armed with that war chest, Yapp suggested MTV is taking a different approach to video games and interactive entertainment.
"We have big expectations for this," he added. "At the end of the day we only have so much time to do things, and rather than do lots of little things, we want to focus on big opportunities. Jerry is an extremely effective storyteller, and with this deal we've kind of blown up all the traditional models."
Yapp said this will be a true collaborative partnership, noting his Los Angeles office is only a block and a half from Bruckheimer's. "We feel that this combination in the end is all about talent and we feel Jerry and MTV have always had success in attracting great talent," he said. "When this story begins to break, you're going to see a lot of people who will want to be a part of it."
Bruckheimer said MTV Games has the strong management team he was seeking in a gaming partner.
"I've had the majority of my success working with strong managers from Les Moonves at CBS to Dick Cook and Bob Iger and now Oren Aviv at Disney," he added. "I always try to pick a real strong management team, and not that other companies don't have it, but I had an affinity to the people at MTV."
Bruckheimer is repped by CAA.