Atari Follows in BMW’s Cinematic Footsteps

LOS ANGELES Driven to a choice of format and production company by the success of last year’s BMW Internet campaign, Atari will premiere a three-minute long live-action online film for its Driv3r game at a pre-launch event in San Francisco Jan. 13. For three months, starting Jan. 23, Atari will post a one-minute installment of the film to the Web, the client said.

The Run the Gauntlet film was written and directed by Sean Mullens for Ridley Scott Associates, Los Angeles and New York, and created directly for the New York client.

“The success of BMW’s films was intriguing to us,” said Wim Stocks, executive vice president of Atari, New York. “Sean understands the soul of the Driv3r franchise.”

Stocks said a television campaign, which may use part of the Gauntlet project, will launch the week before March 23, when the game ships. In Atari’s fiscal year that ends in March, the company will have spent about $30 million marketing its projects, which recently included the Enter the Matrix title.

Mullens said the project came to him and his partner and line producer Mark Walejko through Simon Miller, who had worked with Mullens through RSA before. “Simon said Atari was interested in doing something away from an [ad] agency,” said Mullens. “At the time, Atari was only interested in a 30-second spot with game footage, but I wasn’t interested in doing just another game commercial. I really wanted to build a story around the game.”

Mullens said the project, which involves no game footage, became increasingly elaborate until the $1.1 million, three-day shoot in southern California included the destruction of “12 cars, thousands of rounds of ammo, intense car action and explosions. I wasn’t just interested in a disembodied chase.” Gregg Smrz (Minority Report) handled stunts, Amir Mokri (Bad Boys II) was responsible for cinematography, and Nick Lofting performed editing at Chrome, Santa Monica, Calif.

Stocks said Atari has “no lead agency at this time,” and though it often works with McCarthy Mambro Bertino, Boston, on a project basis, creative has not yet been assigned for the TV spots. He said Driv3r “is probably the most important franchise to us, because it is totally owned by Atari. It is one of our crown jewels.”