Donkey Kong is a lot like life — just one of the reasons Seth Gordon’s docu “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters” strikes such a universal chord with audiences. In Steve Wiebe, a laid-off Boeing employee who found redemption two bits at a time, Gordon distills the pathos, humor and obsession in “a sort of ridiculous pursuit” (his words): trying to top the game’s all-time high score.
As metaphors go, Donkey Kong applies to showbiz, too: The game is insanely hard. But Gordon scored when Picturehouse acquired domestic rights to “King of Kong” at Slamdance last year. In the same deal, New Line picked up worldwide and remake rights.
Gordon’s sensibility attracted top-level talent beyond “Kong,” landing him a chance to direct “Four Christmases” with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon for New Line.
Not bad for a guy who decided halfway through college that he wanted to make movies. At the time, the Yale architecture student was living in Kenya, where he’d gotten a grant to complete the construction of a school. “It was a village with no running water and no electricity, and I had a video camera with a screen so you could watch what you’d shot,” Gordon says. “The students had never seen such a thing, and I fell in love with documenting what was happening in that village. When I got back to school, I was compelled to learn how to edit.”
His self-taught Avid experience led to documentary opportunities, producing-editing “New York Doll” and eventually directing. Now the projects are stacking up, with both the “King of Kong” remake and another project, “The Only Living Boy in New York” for Sony, on hold until the WGA strike is resolved.
PROVENANCE: Evanston, Ill.
INSPIRED BY: Everyone from Christopher Guest to Alexander Payne to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Given his background, Gordon is especially excited about working with Oscar-winning “Babel” editor Stephen Mirrione on “Four Christmases.”
REPS: Agent, Lis Rowinski (Endeavor); manager, Brad Petrigala, Missy Malkin, Naren Desai (Brillstein Ent.) ; lawyer, Christopher Keene (Archer Norris)