PARIS — Wang Jianlin’s Chinese powerhouse Dalian Wanda is on board to co-produce and handle the distribution of Herve Martin-Delpierre’s e-gaming documentary across Asia and the U.S.
Paris-based ZED, which produces and handles worldwide sales for “Game Fever,” has pre-sold all rights for Asia and theatrical rights for the U.S. The doc, commissioned by French pay TV Canal Plus, is co-produced by Dalian Wanda, Intuitive Pictures Inc, Radio Canada and Super Channel.
ZED retains the documentary’s TV, VOD and home video rights for the United States. A critically-acclaimed documentary filmmaker, Delpierre previously directed “Daft Punk Unchained” which sold worldwide and aired on Showtime in the U.S.
Shot over two and a half years in 4K, “Game Fever” depicts the ins and outs of the world of eSport, chronicling the lives of star players, including Moon, Gogoing, Cha Ji-Hoon, Sky and sOs from such cult games as “League of Legends” (which attracts 67 million users per month), as well as “Warcraft 3” and “Starcraft II.”
Budgeted at 1.2 million Euros, the immersive doc filmed in Los Angeles, China, South Korea and France. It explores every facet of e-gaming, from the players to the trainers and fans.
About one-third of the world’s 1 billion video game players are devoted to e-Sports — a competitive tournament expected to generate an estimated $465 million in 2017.
“The gaming revolution is taking the world by storm. ‘Game Fever’ will help understand this new culture, gathering millions of fans all around the world, and shaping the world of tomorrow,” said ZED president Manuel Catteau.
“In China, e-gaming is particularly huge, it’s a true cultural phenomenon,” he added. “Players like Moon, Gogoing, Cha Ji-Hoon, Sky and sOs, whom we’re following in ‘Game Fever,’ have a superstar status in China, a bit like footballers in Europe.”
Catteau said the doc would likely premiere on TV in Europe, but has big theatrical potential in Asia and the U.S. The producer said the deal with Wanda took a year to come through, but proved crucial to finance the film.
Wanda has been making large investment in the film and TV industries, as well as the exhibition business, notably in the U.S., where it acquired AMC Theaters for $2.6 billion in 2012, Carmine Cinemas Inc. for $1.1 billion in March and Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion in January. In France, Wanda acquired EuropaCity, a retail and leisure project to be built on the outskirts of Paris by 2024, for 3 billion Euros.
Delpierre said the big stars of e-gaming are “modern day gladiators,” “audacious young men, sometimes disoriented, but always brave” who live between the virtual world and the real one, as the boundary become increasingly thin.
The French director previously infiltrated the poker and manga worlds, as well as gaming for a doc commissioned by Franco-German network Arte.
The documentary will boast an original score by Joseph Trapanese, who is a Daft Punk contributor and has worked on “Tron: Legacy” and “Daft Punk Unchained.”
As Delpierre is also a professional photographer, he’s giving “Gaming Fever” a cinematic and stylized look with dream-like sequences intertwined into the documentary footage, Catteau explained.
ZED is also producing a mobile-native series about e-gaming for Studio Plus, the mobile-ready platform dedicated to premium short-format series launched by Vivendi Contents. The series, which currently comprises two seasons, is titled “The Fan” and centers on a young Canadian, Matt, who decides to leave home to go live in Korea amid the crazed work of e-gaming. The second season is set in Europe.