Leonardo DiCaprio Cast as Nolan Bushnell in Atari
by Alex Billington
June 7, 2008
Ian Fleming. Bernard Marx. All prospective future roles for Leonardo DiCaprio. Nolan Bushnell can now be added to that list, too. Who is he? Bushnell was the brilliant mind behind Atari Corporation, the very first video game company, and is commonly known as the godfather of the video game industry. DiCaprio is officially attached to star as Bushnell in the movie titled Atari, an idea that writers Brian Hecker and Craig Sherman sold to Paramount on Friday. Get this, apparently the film will play off of elements from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Tucker. I'd rather it play off of Tron, too, but oh well. While this doesn't instantly sound like a big summer blockbuster, it definitely sounds very promising!
Nolan Bushnell was an engineering student, puzzle-lover and game enthusiast (chess, Go, early computer games) who went from fixing broken pinball machines to launching Atari Corp., a video game manufacturer, in the early '70s. Its first product was a little game called Pong that transfixed kids in suburban rec rooms across the country and led to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of video game sales. Within a few years, he sold the company to Warner Communications for $28 million. During the next three decades, Bushnell started many other tech ventures and also created Chuck E. Cheese's.
Both Hecker and Sherman are very new up-and-coming screenwriters who wrote this entirely on their own. DiCaprio's Appian Way will produce, although a production schedule hasn't been set in stone yet. Until a director is announced, this project sounds like it's in the works but not exactly progressing forward - we'll keep you updated!
Obviously this story struck a chord with DiCaprio because his production company scooped it up, he attached himself as the star, and made a big public announcement about it all in one day. I think video games are such a prominent part of society right now that they expect that it would be a big sell to sort of tell the "origin story" of video games. Heck, even I'm excited to see the origin story on the big screen. We all know about Atari and Pong and I think that's what makes this such an interesting project. I'm there!