Tetris Movie - What We Know So Far

Tetris is one of the best-selling video games of all time. So massive is its legacy that it's difficult to pin down exact sales numbers across various iterations and platforms, but 500 million copies is a fair estimate. When you take into account all the bootleg copies of knock-off versions, it's impossible to guess how many people have actually played Tetris, but the number is astronomical.

That being said, if you claimed you were making a Tetris movie, most people would laugh. There's not really a lot of story to tell in Tetris — it's just a bunch of falling bricks that players have to place in a strategic order so that the blocks will disappear. Adam Sandler included Tetris as an element of Pixels, his comedy about video games, but surely that's about as close as you can get to putting those bricks on the screen... right?

Not exactly. There is a new movie about Tetris in the works, according to a tweet from reporter Baz Bamigboye. No, it's not a movie about falling blocks. It's a story about the man who came up with the idea for Tetris and how that idea took on a life of its own and became one of the most famous video games of all time. Here's what we know so far.

What's the release date for the Tetris movie?

As of now, we do not know when Tetris: The Movie (as we're calling it) is coming out, but we can speculate a little. Of course, it's a question further complicated by the fact that feature film production remains almost entirely shut down for the time being.

Even if Hollywood can get back to work very soon, that wouldn't not mean that a Tetris movie will be set to film in 2020. In fact, there's every likelihood that it won't. Currently attached to star is Taron Egerton (more on that in a moment), and he's got another project in the pipeline that will likely need to be completed first: Little Shop of Horrors. Because Little Shop is shaping up to have some major players — including Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans — that film will likely take priority over a Tetris movie.

The good news, though, is that a slice-of-life story about the making of a successful video game likely will not require a large budget or a particularly grand production. Even if filming for a Tetris movie doesn't begin until 2021, it's possible we could see it either by early in 2022.

Who's in the cast and crew of the Tetris movie?

As mentioned, Bamigboye's tweet reports that precisely one person is officially attached to star in the Tetris project: Taron Egerton. Egerton is set to play Henk Rogers, the real life guy from BulletProof Software who worked to secure the rights for Tetris to find its way from Russia to Japan, and the rest of the world. Egerton has already found success playing real-life people like Elton John in Rocketman and Michael Edwards in Eddie the Eagle.

There are plenty of other characters who will likely need to be cast, including Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov and Robert Stein, who also played a major role in bringing Tetris to the U.S. and the U.K.

There's also news behind the scenes. Expected to fill the director's chair is Jon S. Baird, who had a recent sleeper hit with the biopic Stan & Ollie, focusing on the lives of the famous comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. Since Baird just tackled a story with a real-life historical component, he seems like a natural fit for Tetris, which is looking to do the same.

What's the plot of Tetris?

Tetris has a fascinating backstory that's ripe for a compelling movie. We can't say for sure how exactly this Tetris movie will dramatize the real-life story, but there's plenty to speculate about.

In the waning years of the Soviet Union, a Russian software engineer named Alexey Pajitnov designed the original version of Tetris. The game is based on a puzzle game called "pentominoes," in which wooden shapes made of five squares are assembled into a box. Pajitnov made a version of the game which he called Tetris — a mixture of the Latin word "tetra" (the numeral prefix for four, the number of squares in each of his game's pieces) and his favorite sport, tennis.

Pajitnov sent a copy of Tetris to a colleague in Hungary who, in turn, shared it at a software exhibit at the Hungarian Institute of Technology. That's where Robert Stein, the owner of Andromeda Software Ltd., comes into play. Stein saw potential in Tetris and wanted to get the license rights to distribute Tetris to other countries, including the U.K. and the United States.

What makes this story so fascinating is that Stein had to work with a Soviet Agency called Elektronorgtechnica (Elorg) to obtain the rights — which he did, but only for personal computers. Stein fudged the details, though, and while the Soviet Union was crumbling, Stein made deals he wasn't exactly authorized to make in order to bring Tetris to consoles and the burgeoning handheld market. After a long battle involving Stein, BulletProof Software's Henk Rogers, Atari, Nintendo, and the Soviet government, Tetris became the first video game from Russia to ever be distributed in the United States.

Long story short, there was a lot of infighting over who would release Tetris, with Nintendo winning the battle to get Tetris into homes the world over. It wouldn't be for many years later that Pajitnov would finally get any real financial credit for his work as creator of Tetris. Fortunately, a genuine friendship had developed between Pajitnov and Rogers, who helped the Russian emigrate to the U.S., begin a new career as a game designer, and eventually buy back the rights to his iconic creation. That friendship will almost certainly be the heart of the Tetris movie, and we can't wait to see it.