A few days ago, Microsoft President of Entertainment and Digital Nancy Tellem announced that the company would finally start distributing original series via Xbox, more than one year after Tellem arrived in Redmond to spearhead web video production. Now, the platform’s first original series has been revealed: It’s a currently-untitled collection of documentaries dealing with the digital revolution.
The project will be helmed by Oscar winner Simon Chinn and Emmy winner Jonathan Chinn through their new venture, Lightbox. Simon Chinn is particularly well-versed in documentary production; two films he produced, Man On Wire and Searching For Sugar Man, ended up taking home Best Documentary Oscars.
The Chinns’ new project seems as if it will be similar to 30 For 30, ESPN’s series of 30 sports-themed documentaries produced by Bill Simmons. As with that project, this one has a central theme, a notable producer, and individual directors for each episode. Up first is Zak Penn, best known for writing comic book movies such as X-Men: The Last Stand, The Incredible Hulk, and The Avengers. Penn has chosen to tackle the video game crash of 1983, and his take on the subject will debut exclusively on Xbox in 2014.
“Jonathan and Simon Chinn are the perfect team to spearhead this series for Xbox. They are consummate storytellers and they plan to match their creative sensibility with the best talent in the industry,” said Tellem. “These stories will expose how the digital revolution created a global democracy of information, entertainment and commerce, and how it impacts our lives every day.”
We expect to see plenty of splashier series hit Xbox in 2014, but the Chinns’ project is ambitious in its own way. It challenges Netflix’s recent trend towards documentary distribution, announcing the Xbox as a premium platform and a tempting option for talented filmmakers.