Horror helmers do comedy for Xbox Live

James Wan among directors providing comedic films

SAN DIEGO -- Safran Digital Group and Microsoft announced a deal Tuesday that will have some of the leading directors in horror/supernatural filmmaking trying their hand at comedy as the first original programming on Xbox Live.

The directors involved include James Wan ("Saw"), David Slade ("30 Days of Night"), James Gunn ("Slither"), Lucky McKee ("May"), Andrew Douglas ("The Amityville Horror") and Marcus Nispel ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"). They'll provide films running less than 10 minutes that will debut this fall worldwide in HD with the launch of the new Xbox Live Experience user interface.

SDG CEO Peter Safran, producer of the Xbox short film series, said the project gives the directors the chance to prove their skill and creativity outside of the horror genre.

"Almost every director we approached wanted to do this to show their comedic vision," he said. "Most of these guys know the Xbox demographic are also big fans of horror and the supernatural and realized this was the platform where they should be."

Xbox Live has proven to be a solid distribution platform for licensed movies and TV shows. With this deal, Microsoft looks to position it as a vehicle for original content as well.

"We really wanted to focus on bite-size entertainment pieces, under 10-minute short film pilots that Xbox Live users could jump on and enjoy before they go off and play 'Gears of War 2,' " said Scott Nocas, group product manager of Xbox Live programming.