“The Wheelman” To Come to Life as Video Game Property and Feature Film; Vin Diesel to Star and Produce
Vin Diesel’s Tigon Studios Joins Forces with Midway, MTV Films, Paramount Pictures and MTV Games For Groundbreaking Collaboration on Action-Entertainment Property
Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA, February 22, 2006 – Bringing together some of the top content providers in entertainment, Midway Games Inc. (NYSE: MWY), a leading interactive entertainment industry publisher and developer, Tigon Studios, founded by Vin Diesel, and Viacom’s (NYSE: VIA, VIAB) MTV Films, Paramount Pictures and MTV Games today announced a collaboration on a groundbreaking action-entertainment property, The Wheelman.
The Wheelman is being developed as an intensely riveting video game from Midway, in association with Diesel’s Tigon Studios and MTV Games, intended to serve as the introduction to a series of related entertainment offerings.
MTV Films and Paramount Pictures have purchased the rights to develop a major motion picture based on the video game. The Wheelman is being developed as an adrenaline-charged action movie starring Vin Diesel as an expert wheelman who comes out of retirement to protect a woman from his past.
Rich Wilkes, who worked with Diesel on “XXX,” is slated to write the script for the project. Diesel’s Tigon Films and MTV Films plan to produce the film, and Paramount Pictures intends to release it. Overseeing the film for MTV Films will be David Gale, Executive Vice President, Loretha Jones, Senior Vice President of Development and Jason Weiss, Senior Director of Development. Overseeing for Paramount will be Dan Levine, Senior Vice President Production, Matt Jackson, Vice President Production and Eben Davidson, Director Creative Affairs. Overseeing for Diesel’s Tigon Studios will be Samantha Vincent, Vice President and Coz Lazouras, Product Development Executive.
The Wheelman will be the second of three titles under the recently announced strategic relationship between MTV Networks and Midway to market, jointly sell in-game advertising and collaborate on soundtrack development.
“With The Wheelman we have created the first integrated franchise being launched for both the gaming and film industries,” said Vin Diesel. “In collaborating with Midway, MTV and Paramount, TIGON Studios has brought together an incredible team to execute this project.”
“We believe The Wheelman is a groundbreaking new model for our industry,” said David F. Zucker, president and CEO, Midway. “We intend to create a broad-arcing experience, simultaneously developing entertainment properties across a number of mediums, with Vin Diesel right at the center of it all.”
“We’ve been big Vin Diesel fans since he first wrote, directed and starred in his first feature ‘Strays,’ so partnering to bring this kick-ass character to life across multiple screens is not only exciting, but reflective of how we want to work with talent,” said Van Toffler, President, MTV Networks Music/Films/Logo Group. “With some of the biggest names in the feature film and gaming worlds joining forces on The Wheelman, we’ve got all the makings of a very cool franchise.”
“With the close cooperation of Midway, Paramount and MTV Films, we are putting together a new way to tell a story,” said Cos Lazouras, production executive, Tigon Studios. “Working in tandem with the movie, we envision the video game will introduce The Wheelman in a way that creates a unique connection with the audience that will blend the interactive world with the experience of the motion picture.”
About Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel starred in the blockbusters The Pacifier, Chronicles of Riddick, XXX, The Fast and the Furious, and Pitch Black. His next feature is Sidney Lumet’s “Find Me Guilty,” which opens nationwide March 17th. His additional credits include A Man Apart, Boiler Room, voicing the title character in The Iron Giant; and playing Private Carpazo in Saving Private Ryan, a role which garnered him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination as part of the film’s ensemble cast. Diesel has written, directed and starred in the short Multi-Facial, which screened at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival; and Strays, which screened in competition at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.
About Rich Wilkes
Rich Wilkes wrote the screenplay for XXX, as well as Airheads, The Stoned Age, The Jerky Boys Movie and Beer Money. He also wrote and directed an independent feature, Glory Daze, and the UPN pilot, Vegas Dick.
About Tigon Studios
Founded by Vin Diesel in 2002, Tigon Studios objective is to incubate and develop dynamic, creative, and marketable story and character-driven intellectual properties and leverage them concurrently across multiple entertainment mediums. In just three years, Tigon has already proven its ability to produce award winning properties with the release of the highly-acclaimed Xbox and PC title, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (“Escape from Butcher Bay”), a title based upon the 2004 Universal Pictures film release, “The Chronicles of Riddick.”
About MTV Films
MTV Films is the feature film development and production division of MTV that releases films in conjunction with Paramount Pictures. Since its inception in 1995, MTV Films established itself as a unique movie label with a slate of diverse and successful films that have grossed more than 900 million dollars in domestic box office. In partnership with Paramount Pictures, MTV Films has released 24 films including “Beavis & Butt-head Do America,” “Varsity Blues” and “Save the Last Dance,” which each broke box-office records on their opening weekends. In 2004, MTV Films released with Fox Searchlight the indie comedy, “Napoleon Dynamite,” which proved to be another huge success for the company as it earned critical raves, over $40 million at the box office, and three Independent Spirit Award nominations. In 2005, MTV Films produced “Coach Carter,” and the summer blockbuster “The Longest Yard” which took in the division’s largest opening weekend ever with more than 58 million dollars domestically. MTV Films has also enjoyed success with the critically acclaimed acquisition and Academy Award-nominated “Hustle & Flow,” winner of the Audience Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and also released the Academy Award nominated documentary “Murderball,” winner of the Documentary Competition Audience Award at the same festival. Some other highlights of MTV Films include the Academy Award – nominated “Election” (Best Adapted Screenplay) and “Tupac: Resurrection” (Best Documentary), as well as “Jackass: The Movie,” “Orange County,” and the Spike Lee directed comedy concert film “The Original Kings of Comedy.”
About MTV Games
MTV Games is dedicated to producing and marketing unique interactive entertainment experiences that resonate with MTV’s audience. Through strategic partnerships with a range of videogame publishers and independent developers, MTV Games creates, supports, and participates in the success of a diverse slate of innovative console, handheld, and PC titles for both hardcore and casual gamers. Titles released under these partnerships receive multi-platform promotion across MTV’s properties worldwide, including MTV, mtv2, mtvU, and mtv.com, leveraging MTV’s unique brand and marketing capabilities to maximize sales. In addition, MTV Games collaborates with its partners on soundtracks, in-game advertising sales, and development of complementary television programming.
About Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures is part of the entertainment operations of Viacom, Inc., one of the world’s largest entertainment and media companies and a leader in the production, promotion, and distribution of entertainment news, sports and music.
About MTV Networks
MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is one of the world’s leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms. MTV Networks, with more than 100 channels worldwide, owns and operates the following television programming services – MTV: MUSIC TELEVISION, MTV2, VH1, mtvU, NICKELODEON, NICK at NITE, COMEDY CENTRAL, TV LAND, SPIKE TV, CMT, NOGGIN, VH1 CLASSIC, LOGO, MTVN INTERNATIONAL and THE DIGITAL SUITE FROM MTV NETWORKS, a package of 13 digital services, all of these networks trademarks of MTV Networks. MTV Networks connects with its audiences through its robust consumer products businesses and its more than 95 interactive properties worldwide, including online, broadband, wireless and interactive television services and also has licensing agreements, joint ventures, and syndication deals whereby all of its programming services can be seen worldwide.
Midway Games Inc. (NYSE:MWY), headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with offices throughout the world, is a leading developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software for major videogame systems and personal computers. More information about Midway and its products can be found at www.midway.com.
The Wheelman is a trademark of Midway Home Entertainment Inc.
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 concerning future business conditions and the outlook for Midway Games Inc. (the “Company”) based on currently available information that involve risks and uncertainties. The Company’s actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements as a result of these risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, the financial strength of the interactive entertainment industry, dependence on new product introductions and the ability to maintain the scheduling of such introductions, the console platform transition and other technological changes, dependence on major platform manufacturers and other risks more fully described under “Item 1. Business - Risk Factors” in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2004, and in the more recent filings made by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Each forward-looking statement, including, without limitation, financial guidance, speaks only as of the date on which it is made, and Midway undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which it is made or to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events or circumstances.
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- Johner Riehl
- Midway Games Inc.
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