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Going deeper underground.

Microsoft has announced a documentary about the burial of the Atari 2600 E.T. video game that will debut exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox 360 next year.

Microsoft's department for exclusive TV content on Xbox is called Xbox Entertainment Studios, and it's signed a deal for the original documentary series due out in 2014.

It is produced with two-time Academy Award-winning producer Simon Chinn (Searching for Sugar Man and Man on Wire) and Emmy-winning producer Jonathan Chinn (FX's 30 Days and PBS's American High) through their new multiplatform media company, Lightbox.

The first film in the series investigates how Atari was forced to bury millions of unsold E.T. cartridges in a small town in New Mexico after the game was panned by critics.

The deal for the series came about after Fuel Entertainment secured the exclusive rights to excavate the Atari landfill site and approached Xbox. Lightbox will document the dig, which is planned for early next year.

The film is directed by Zak Penn (X-Men 2, Avengers, Incident at Loch Ness), who is described as an "avid gamer".

"When Simon and Jonathan Chinn approached me about this story, I knew it would be something important and fascinating," said Penn.

"I wasn't expecting to be handed the opportunity to uncover one of the most controversial mysteries of gaming lore."

Xbox Entertainment Studios boss Nancy Tellem added: "Jonathan and Simon Chinn are the perfect team to spearhead this series for Xbox. They are consummate story tellers and they plan to match their creative sensibility with the best talent in the industry.

"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."

Shooting begins in January. The series will air on Xbox One and Xbox 360 in 2014 globally. Microsoft has yet to announce how much it will cost.

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Wesley Yin-Poole

Wesley Yin-Poole

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