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'Tetris: The Movie' is on its way
Tetris
"Tetris Party Deluxe" for Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS. The video game puzzle franchise is set to be made into a movie. - photo by Deseret News archives

In its never-ending quest to find familiar brands to turn into box office hits, Hollywood has looked in some pretty strange places.

Occasionally, it works out. Before it took the No. 1 spot at the box office in July 2003, everybody had pegged Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” as an almost guaranteed flop, due in no small part to the fact that it was based on a theme-park ride.

Usually, though, things haven’t turned out quite so well. Just look at the long list of bad video game movies (“Need for Speed,” “Hitman,” “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li”) or recent debacles like “The Lone Ranger,” based on a 1930’s radio Western, or “Battleship,” based on a plot-less, character-less board game from Hasbro.

But this new one could be the strangest idea of them all.

According to a press release (via The Verge), Threshold Entertainment and the Tetris Company have announced plans to make a movie based on the classic Soviet puzzle game “Tetris,” which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.

Even stranger, though, is how the film’s producers plan on making a game about falling, interlocking tiles -- or tetrominoes, as they’re technically called -- into a movie.

“Everyone knows that Tetris is one of the best known, most beloved brands in the world,” said Threshold chairman Larry Kasanoff, who is producing the movie, in the news release. “What everyone doesn’t know yet is this epic sci-­fi story that we’re going to tell. That’s what’s really exciting.”

Yep. There you have it -- epic sci-fi.
Speaking with the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog, Kasanoff reiterated, “It’s a very big, epic sci-fi movie.” He added, “This isn’t a movie with a bunch of lines running around the page. We’re not giving feet to the geometric shapes.”

Threshold Entertainment has some prior experience with video game adaptations. It produced 1995’s “Mortal Kombat” and its sequel, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.”

Those movies, however, benefited from at least having pre-existing characters with backstories that audiences already knew.

According to the Tetris Company’s Henk Rogers, this is just the next step for the Tetris brand.

“What started as a simple, computer puzzle game 30 years ago, today is part of our global consciousness, connecting people of all ages and backgrounds and feeding our innate desire to create order out of chaos,” Rogers said in the news release. “We look forward to partnering with Threshold Entertainment to re-imagine that common experience and bring a spectacular new Tetris universe to the big screen for the first time. In this new universe, as you’ll soon find out, there’s much more to Tetris than simply clearing lines.”

While Tetris’ importance as a video game is undeniable, what isn’t clear is if it can succeed where other similar cross-platform concepts have so far failed.