A team of filmmakers and excavators descended upon the Alamogordo Landfill in New Mexico today, to investigate the longstanding legend of Atari’s long-buried cache of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” cartridges. As the story goes, the reviled Atari 2600 movie tie-in game went largely unwanted by consumers, and Atari — facing financial catastrophe due to the very costly flop — decided to rid themselves of thousands upon thousands of these unsold cartridges, dumping them in the New Mexico landfill and leaving them buried forever. Fuel Entertainment took an interest in the legend, and in December 2013, with help from local garbage contractor Joe Lewandowski, acquired the exclusive rights to excavate the Alamogordo landfill. Fuel Entertainment then brought the opportunity to Xbox Entertainment Studios.
Today’s excavators went to Alamogordo hoping to provide closure to this legend, perhaps make history and get some awesome documentary footage for the upcoming original film by Xbox, “Atari: Game Over” (working title).
And, lo and behold, they hit paydirt. The findings started out very promising, with an old, dusty Atari 2600 joystick buried in the landfill. Then an “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” cartridge. A box. An instruction manual. And the confirmation of “a lot more down there.” How many more, we don’t know just yet — but at this point, we can safely report that those long-buried cartridges are actually, 100 percent there. Crazy, isn’t it!? And it sounds like some other games are down there, too: Centipede, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and possibly more. “Lots of boxes” is what we’re hearing.
“Atari: Game Over” (working title) is executive produced by two-time Academy Award winning producer Simon Chinn (“Searching for Sugar Man” and “Man on Wire”) and Emmy winning producer Jonathan Chinn (FX’s “30 Days” and PBS’s “American High”), through their multi-platform media company, Lightbox. The film is directed by writer/director Zak Penn (“X-Men 2,” “Avengers,” and “Incident at Loch Ness”). It will air exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox 360 in 2014.
Stay tuned to Xbox Wire over the coming days for a comprehensive rundown on the Alamogordo excavation, what went down, what some of the people at the (very public) event thought of the results and what it all means for our wonderful industry. In a strange way, the dig team at Alamogordo made history today — and now, at long last, we know the truth behind one of gaming’s most enduring, widespread legends!