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Tetris (2023) | Transcript

The story of how one of the world's most popular video games found its way to players around the globe. Businessman Henk Rogers and Tetris inventor Alexey Pazhitnov join forces in the USSR, risking it all to bring it to the masses.
Tetris (2023) movie

An enterprising game developer risks everything in a race to outmaneuver duplicitous insiders to negotiate a deal with Soviet Union bureaucrats for the international licensing rights to what would eventually become one of the most recognizable and widely played games in history.

* * *

[narrator] Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve already made the incredibly smart decision to skip the casinos, where the odds are stacked against you, and come to the place where you can’t lose.

Technology is the future, and video games are leading the charge.

So, step right up and be the first to experience the world’s next big hit.

Come try GO, Asia’s favorite game.

Rights available everywhere except Japan.

How are you, sir?

GO, GO, GO. Come on. Wanna play? It’s like chess.

Except infinitely harder.

[clicks tongue]

[Henk] GO didn’t go as planned.

I couldn’t even keep my salesgirl interested.

And I know how many excuses bank managers hear every day.

But this is not an excuse. This is an opportunity.

In fact, my little setback may have been the best thing to ever happen to us.

[chattering]

Yeah.

[Henk] Tracy.

Yeah.

[Tracy chuckles]

Tracy. What are you doing?

How’s it going? I just invited this young lady over to see how our new game fares with the female audience.

[Tracy chuckles]

Uh-huh. Sure.

Come on, Tracy. I’m paying you to sell my game, not play other people’s.

Relax, Henk. This game is swell.

What’s it called?

Tetris.

Tetris.

I don’t get it.

It’s a combination of tetra, Greek for “four”…

All the game’s pieces are variants of four… and tennis.

Tennis?

Tennis.

Yeah, supposedly, the Russian inventor, he, um… he likes tennis.

Here, Henk. Try it.

[Tracy scoffs]

[Henk groans]

#video game beeping#

[beeping continues]

Was this coded in Pascal, or C?

[chuckles] That’s proprietary.

You like it?

It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, Eddie.

Heard that line before.

No. It’s nothing like GO. It’s in a completely different league.

Heard that line before.

Okay, fine. But, Eddie, I played Tetris for five minutes, yeah.

I still see falling blocks in my dreams.

This game isn’t just addictive.

It stays with you.

It’s poetry. Art and math all working in magical synchronicity.

It’s… It’s the perfect game.

Why are you telling me this?

Do you have the video game rights?

Mirrorsoft control all rights on all platforms, worldwide.

Is Japan available?

Because you’re looking at the proud licensee of Tetris in Japan for PC…

#video game beeps#

…games console…

#video game beeps#

…and arcade.

#video game beeps#

Is this a joke?

You took the money you owed this bank for your failed video game…

#video game beeps, whooshes#

…to buy yet another video game?

Correct.

But, Eddie, this is different.

Tetris is already a hit.

Where?

Russia.

#video game whooshes, thuds#

[Eddie] Henk, there is no video games business in Russia.

[Henk] I know.

Please, let me finish.

#video game chimes#

[Henk] It all began with a guy named Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov, four years ago.

By day, he worked as a programmer for the government at the Soviet Computer Science Center.

[thunder rumbles]

[Henk] But by night, he invented games for fun.

[electronic whirring]

#video game beeps#

[gasps]

[Henk] His computer, a Stone Age, Soviet piece of crap called an Electronika 60, didn’t even have a graphics card.

His falling blocks were parentheses pushed together.

#video game beeping#

[typing]

[Henk] Alexey and a couple of buddies from work made the game IBM-compatible.

[cheering]

[Henk] Which meant color graphics, 8-bit music and floppy disks that people copied and shared for free.

It spread like wildfire.

#video game beeps#

But this is the Soviet Union, remember?

Nothing gets out easily.

It would take an entrepreneur to actually go there and monetize it.

Who?

You?

[chuckles] Jesus, no.

I’m not that crazy.

That was Robert Stein.

#video game beeps#

[squeaking]

[Henk] Two years ago.

[squeaking]

[in Hungarian] Welcome back to Budapest Mr Stein.

[Henk, in English] A one-man band based in London,

he would travel to eastern Europe looking for licensed games cheaply

and then resell them for a profit to the West.

[grunts]

[in Hungarian] Seen it and boring.

#video game beeping#

What’s this?

[director] This is not our game.

[typing]

#video game beeping#

MOSCOW COMPUTER SCIENCE CENTER

[in Russian] This jackass Stein won’t stop faxing us, wasting our paper.

What does it say?

He wants to license my game.

Am I allowed to do that?

We better ask the bosses at ELORG.

[boss] Yes we can. Send the fax.

[fax machine beeps]

[fax machine beeps]

[Henk, in English] Once the Russians made a deal with Stein,

his next appointment was back in London with Robert Maxwell.

[lighter clicks]

[puffs]

[Henk] One year ago.

Mr. Stein, pleasure to meet you. Robert Maxwell.

Pleasure.

The Robert Maxwell?

The billionaire media tycoon?

The one and only.

Okay, now that’s the type of businessman us bankers actually approve of.

Maxwell pays his debts.

Mm-hmm.

And he’s heading distribution?

[clicks tongue]

Uh, next best thing.

And this is my son.

[chuckles]

I can introduce myself, Father.

#video game beeps, chimes#

Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Mirrorsoft.

Good to meet you, Kevin.

Uh-uh-uh.

It’s Mr. Maxwell to you, sir.

Anyway, gentlemen, I feel a celebration is in order.

Kevin.

The first computer game to leave the Iron Curtain.

My old mate Mikhail Gorbachev will be proud.

We’ll start by licensing computer games,

then video games, arcade games, board games, everything.

[glasses clink]

Go on.

Great, ’cause you’re not gonna believe where I was yesterday.

#video game whooshes, thuds#

#video game beeps, ascending notes play#

[receptionist speaks Japanese]

Hi. Henk Rogers, Bullet-Proof Software.

I have a meeting with Hiroshi Yamauchi, your CEO.

Rogers?

Mm-hmm.

Not in book.

Oh, okay.

I understand.

Thank you.

Could I use your restroom before I go?

On the left?

[receptionist] Left.

Okay. Thank you.

[elevator bell dings]

[elevator bell dings]

Hi. I have a meeting with Mr. Yamauchi. I wonder…

Mr. Rogers, you’re trespassing.

Mr. Yamauchi is out of town. So…

That’s not true because I saw him this morning, and his car’s still outside.

No, no.

Who is this?

[in English] Hi.

Uh, Henk Rogers. Bullet-Proof Software.

[clicks]

#video game beeping#

[beeping continues]

#video game buzzes, victory tune plays#

Not too bad.

Really?

[speaking Japanese]

[in English] We’ll buy you out for 500,000.

Whoo!

Five hundred grand?

Henk, let me get you that drink.

I told them no.

You did what?

Are you out of your fucking mind?

I got a bigger vision, Eddie.

That is why I’m here.

I’ll publish it and cover all up-front costs.

[speaking Japanese]

[in English] We publish our games in-house.

We don’t use outside partners.

You don’t do it often, true.

[assistant translating in Japanese]

But you do make exceptions.

[translating continues]

Because you know as well as I do, partners are what make us great.

[translating continues]

That’s why Mario has Luigi.

#video game beeps, boings#

[victory tune plays]

That’s why Zelda has Link.

#video game chiming#

That’s why Mike Tyson has whoever he’s punching out in Punch-Out!!

#video game twangs#

[translating continues]

[chuckles]

[mouthing words] Yeah.

[speaking Japanese]

[assistant, in English] We want you to make 200,000 cartridges.

You want two million dollars?

No.

[sighs] Had me worried for a bit.

I need a check for three million dollars.

[chokes]

That’s the punch line? You want a check from me?

And how did you get to three million?

Because I’ll need two million for Nintendo cartridges

and one million to make arcade machines.

I have Tetris for arcade too, remember?

#video game beeps#

Arcade is a cash business and the money comes in fast,

which is great for both of us.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Eddie.

Nintendo is letting me become a publisher.

Nintendo. It’s a license to print money.

You feel that strongly about it?

Yeah! Clearly.

Then I’m upping your interest rates.

Fine.

And I want your house as collateral.

Fine!

If you miss one payment, that house is ours.

Fine.

You sure you don’t have to talk to your wife about this first?

Akemi is the chief financial officer of our company.

She’s all in.

#video game chirping#

[Akemi] This was not what you promised, Henk.

I… I know, but you know how unimaginative these bankers are.

Pioneers have to bet the house to win.

But not literally.

Listen.

[controller clicking]

Have you ever heard our apartment this quiet before?

Maya?

Hmm?

[Henk] What do you think?

[in Japanese] It’s BRILLIANT, can we keep it?

[in English] This is gonna work.

I promise.

Is that a promise you can keep?

If we do this, we’re in control.

So, yeah…

it is.

Yoshi

Itsuko

[in Japanese] Everyone…

We’re big failures now!

[gasping, murmuring]

[no audible dialogue]

We’re big PUBLISHERS now!

[cheering, laughing]

[speaks Japanese]

#video game whooshes, thuds#

[Alexey speaking Russian]

Low to high.

Set your feet. Low to high.

[person] Tennis in the winter.

Very impressive.

Valentin Trifonov

Central Committee. Communist Party.

I just wanted to meet the man responsible…

for almost destroying the Soviet Union.

Excuse me?

Your game.

It was being played by government workers across the Union for hours a day.

They were getting nothing done.

We had to create a program to block it from all PCs.

I’m told you licensed your game to the West.

Any profits yet?

Mm-hmm.

I can’t imagine how a game that is so popular here makes no money abroad.

Someone is cheating.

Dad can we keep playing?

Wait, wait.

[chuckles]

I’m sorry to interrupt.

Again, congratulations.

You deserve it.

[line ringing]

[phone rings]

[in English] Bullet-Proof, Henk speaking.

[Kevin] Yes, hello, Mr. Rogers?

Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Mirrorsoft.

Oh, hi, Kevin.

I… It’s Mr. Maxwell to you, sir.

I’m calling because I’m told you bought PC, video game,

and arcade rights for Tetris in Japan, yes?

That’s right.

Well, it turns out, we already licensed arcade to SEGA in Japan.

Um, what? When?

I… I did a deal with your guy in Vegas.

Uh… [scoffs]

…my job isn’t to meddle in specifics, Mr. Rogers.

But I paid for arcade. We signed a contract.

No, no, no, no. You signed your end, I’ve yet to sign mine.

Hence the call.

What the fuck, Kevin?

No, it’s Mr. Maxwell.

Uh, what the fuck, Mr. Maxwell?

You’re gonna fucking bankrupt me.

Look, do you want PC and video game or not?

Yeah. [chuckles]

That’s what I thought.

[line clicks, disconnects]

We just lost arcade rights.

[in Japanese] Hiro-san,

stop working on the arcade prototype.

Everyone, it’s going to be fine.

We still have video game rights.

Henk has a very important meeting with Nintendo. We’ll figure it out.

OK

[in English] Congratulations, Mr. Yamauchi.

I thought you should have your own personal copy of Tetris

before we sell out.

[assistant translating in Japanese]

[Henk, in English] Thank you.

[translating continues]

You know how, in Super Mario, when you’re running along and everything’s great,

but suddenly a Piranha Plant pops out of nowhere and spews fire on you?

[translating continues]

Thing is, Yamauchi-san, Kevin Maxwell pulled a Piranha Plant on me and you.

#video game beeping#

[translating continues]

He reneged on my arcade rights, and I really need a mushroom to stay alive.

#video game beeps#

[translating continues]

[chuckles]

Can I get an advance on my future Nintendo residuals, please?

[translating continues]

[speaking Japanese]

[in English] Mr. Yamauchi invites you to meet his Nintendo colleagues in Seattle.

We might have something to help you out.

[in Japanese] Cheers

Cheers

[Maya singing in Japanese]

[singing continues]

[children screaming, chattering]

[screaming, chattering continue]

[Henk, in English] Okay, kiddos.

Why don’t we tidy our room before Mom gets home. Yeah!

[cheers]

[in Japanese] But dad, my school concert is next month and…

I just got the song I’m performing and I need to practice.

But I need your help.

[in English] I’m sorry, hon.

Papa’s gotta go and get ready for his business trip.

But I can’t wait to see your show, okay?

I gotta go pack. Come on, kids, tidy!

[airplane whooshes]

[tires screech]

[beeps]

The inner sanctum.

[grunts]

Hi. Henk Rogers. Bullet-Proof Software.

It is an honor to be here.

[chuckles] Hello, Henk.

Minoru Arakawa, President of Nintendo of America.

I know. [chuckles]

Henk Goddamn Rogers.

Welcome to Seattle. Howard Lincoln, senior VP, chief legal counsel.

Your cowboy reputation precedes you.

Here. Sign this.

An NDA? Why?

Because only ten other people in the world have seen what you’re about to see,

and, to be honest, we don’t trust you.

[Henk] 8-bit graphics?

Yes, and a brand-new Sharp LR35902 core at 4.19 mega-hertz

with eight kilobytes internal RAM.

[gasp] Impressive.

No color screen?

Color, you’d need eight batteries instead of four. It’s too expensive.

This gives you 30 hours of game play, all for $89.

[chuckles]

What’s it called?

It’s called the Game Boy.

Go ahead, try it.

[sighs]

[beeping]

[chuckles]

[beeping continues]

[chuckles]

We’re launching in June.

And we want publishers like you to be on the lookout for new games.

So, you’ll package it with Mario?

Yes, it’s our best brand.

This game is programmed in C, yeah?

Mm-hmm.

How many pixels?

160 by 144. Why?

[typing]

[beeps]

It’s not perfect, but you’ll get the idea.

#video game beeping#

[chuckles]

Gentlemen, if you wanna sell a couple hundred thousand Game Boys to little kids,

package them with Mario.

But if you wanna sell millions of Game Boys to absolutely everyone,

young and old, around the world,

package them with Tetris.

Can you get us the rights?

[airplane whooshing]

[tires screech]

[chattering]

Hi.

My name’s Henk Rogers. I’m here to see Kevin Maxwell.

Do you have an appointment, sir?

Nope. It’s a surprise.

I’m doing my best.

No, do not say that.

No, you’re not doing your best.

No, it’s… In fact, on a scale from one to best,

you’re doing less than zero, which is fuck all!

The Soviets are not stupid.

They know that Tetris sells.

But they… they’re refusing to engage with me on arcade rights

until I pay them for the royalties I owe them on the computer games.

And I can’t pay them until you pay me.

[knocks]

Henk Rogers to see Kevin Maxwell.

What the bloody hell is he doing here?

Bring him in.

Why?

Well, I should go.

Sit down.

We are a united front. Understood?

Mr. Rogers, what a pleasant surprise.

Robert Maxwell, chairman of the Mirror Group.

Wow, hi.

Uh, if I’m interrupting, I can…

Not all all.

We were just talking Tetris actually.

This is Robert Stein of Andromeda Software, and my son…

I can introduce myself, Father. Thank you.

Kevin Maxwell.

CEO of Mirrorsoft.

Mmm, I know. We met.

On the phone. You sold my arcade rights to SEGA.

Well, it seems everything’s sorted itself out, yes?

[smacks lips] Before I forget, this is for the Soviets, per my contract.

It’s a game-play tape of Japanese Tetris.

Though we very much, uh, appreciate your, um, personal delivery, Mr. Rogers,

but you could’ve mailed it. You could’ve saved yourself the trip.

Uh, yes, but then I wouldn’t be able to talk to you about handheld Tetris.

Handheld?

[Henk] Mmm.

What I couldn’t figure out is who controls the rights.

You?

Without a doubt.

Yes.

Uh, Mr. Stein controls all the exclusive worldwide licensing rights.

That’s, uh, arcade, video game, computer, and the handheld.

We license everything through him.

Fantastic.

Then I would like to buy your worldwide handheld rights. Today.

Mr. Rogers, Nintendo doesn’t have a handheld device.

Why would they be trying to buy into a market…

I can’t comment on that,

but I am willing to make a very generous offer on their behalf.

We’ll consider your offer, Henk.

I can handle this, Father.

We’ll consider your offer, Mr. Rogers.

I haven’t made one yet.

Yes.

Have a splendid time in London.

See you around.

[whistles] You’re excused, Mr. Stein.

And do not bother coming back here without fully executed contracts,

including handheld Tetris, yes?

[groans]

We should give the Soviets some money.

They don’t care about money, Son.

They care about loyalty.

Premier Gorbachev is my friend.

We’re publishing his memoir. We’re loyal.

Yes, um, Father, um, the company’s pension manager called

and said there was a few million pounds missing

from the employees’ retirement fund last week.

Yes, uh, we had to rearrange the balance sheets for the year-end.

Small accounting quirk, is all.

So, I shan’t worry?

No, you shan’t.

But, Kevin, we need Tetris, understood?

[door opens, closes]

[siren wailing in distance]

Mr. Stein.

Mr. Stein, please. Hold on.

What happened in there?

It’s complicated.

Wh… You don’t control handheld rights?

I didn’t say that. I said it’s complicated.

Either you do, or you don’t. What’s so complicated…

Have you ever been in Moscow, Mr. Rogers?

Have you ever negotiated with the Soviets?

Do you know what it feels like to be in a country where…

Where everyone is watching you?

No. So, don’t tell me what is and what is not complicated.

I’ll pay you $25,000 to secure me worldwide handheld rights.

I guess it wasn’t so complicated.

[airplane whooshes]

[tires screech]

[phone ringing]

Hello.

It’s Howard Lincoln, Nintendo, America.

Listen, I just heard that Robert Stein

is selling handheld Tetris to Atari for $100,000.

What?

Yeah, Atari.

You know how much we hate those motherfuckers.

But now they supposedly have a handheld device with our damn game.

I paid Stein to get me handheld rights.

What’s happening?

Is Stein cutting you out and getting the deal for himself?

I mean, if he is, he’s cutting out more than just me.

Are you selling handheld Tetris to Atari behind my back?

Kevin, good to see you.

Do not call me Kevin!

We are not chums.

You deal with Mirrorsoft exclusively, or have you forgotten your contract?

Oh.

Y-You mean the contract that gives me global royalties on sales of Tetris?

Uh, ’cause I-I haven’t got any yet.

[pants]

[exclaims] Okay! Okay.

I-I-I haven’t secured handheld rights yet, but, uh, j-j-just give me some time.

No, I’ll negotiate directly with the Russians.

We’re through.

[glass shatters]

Through?

Through.

[door slams]

Screw it. I’m gonna go to Moscow.

Wait, wait, wait. Hold on, you can’t just go to the Soviet Union, Henk.

You need a… You need a business visa, a full background check. It takes months.

Well, I’ll get a tourist visa then.

So, you’ll lie? That’s a felony. They could throw you in jail.

I’ll take my chances.

Who you gonna talk to?

Some company called ELORG.

Companies don’t exist in the USSR, Henk. ELORG is probably KGB.

Do you guys want this game or not?

[Howard] Yeah, course we do.

But you’re walking into a communist country

that still considers America enemy numero uno.

If you go, we can’t protect you.

Okey dokey.

[in Japanese] Where are you going now, papa?

[airplane whooshes]

[tires screech]

#video game boings, chimes#

[in English] You’re Danish?

Huh? No. I’m Dutch.

Yet you sound American.

Well, I grew up in New York, but I’m Dutch.

An… And I live in Japan. [chuckles]

[guard speaking Russian]

[grunts]

[grunts]

[groans]

[in English] Translator?

No, thank you.

Hi.

Henk Rogers, checking in.

[sighs]

I don’t suppose you know where I can find ELORG, do you?

Otherwise known as Electronorgtechnica. It’s a government body.

[clicks tongue] Government? Net.

[smacks lips] “No,” as in you don’t know, or “no,” as in you’re not gonna…

[clerk, in Russian] We have a new guest…

[in English] ELORG. You know, phone number?

Translation services?

No, thanks.

Translator.

Thanks.

[fan belt squeals]

[people chattering]

[whistles]

[horn honks]

Taxi!

[person] Taxi!

[grocer, in Russian] No more fish or meat!

Please!

You must have some.

My family is hungry.

I have money.

Take this. Please.

No. You have a family too.

Please. My family will be fine.

Thank you.

[in English] Salutations.

You’re in need of succor?

Excuse me?

Uh, succor. Noun. Uh, assistance in times of stress.

Synonymous with help.

Sasha. Translation services.

Esteemed to meet you.

Oh. [chuckles]

[Sasha] Do you fancy history?

We can visit Stalin’s Seven Sisters, his palaces for the proletariat.

Or art?

We can go to the Pushkin Museum.

Actually, where I really need to go is ELORG.

I assumed you were here for vacationing purposes.

So you’ve heard of it?

[horn honks]

[Sasha pants]

Mr. Rogers, this is not America.

Entering a government structure without invite is highly illegal.

Sasha, I didn’t travel 5,000 miles to be stopped by a door.

[in Russian] Identification?

[sighs]

Nikolai Evgenievich…

Yes?

Someone for you.

I’m listening.

[in English] Uh, yeah, hi. Henk Rogers.

Bullet-Proof Software.

[stammers] I publish the video game version of Tetris in Japan,

and I’m here to license the worldwide handheld rights from you.

[in Russian] What’s that?

Hmm?

Where’s it from?

[in English] I’m… I’m sorry. I… I don’t speak…

One sec.

Sorry, Sasha, but I really need you.

It’s gonna be fine.

[door opens]

Uh, this is Sasha, my translator.

[in Russian] Hello, my name is Sasha.

I’m a translator.

[in English] Okay? Okay.

My name is Henk Rogers.

[translating in Russian]

And I publish Tetris for Nintendo in Japan.

[translating continues]

[speaking Russian]

[in English] He inquires, “What is Nintendo?”

Ha. Very funny.

Uh, Nintendo’s the most popular video game console in the world, sir.

[translating in Russian]

[speaking Russian]

[in English] He says ELORG never licensed Tetris video game rights to anyone, ever.

[Nikolai speaking Russian]

[in English] Only the computer game version.

No, that can’t be true. Look, uh…

[translating continues]

ELORG licensed the rights to Robert Stein at Andromeda,

[translating continues]

…Andromeda to Mirrorsoft…

and Mirrorsoft’s representative in Las Vegas to Bullet-Proof Software,

which is me.

[translating continues]

I gave it to Mirrorsoft to send to you.

[translating in Russian]

[speaking Russian]

[in English] He denies obtaining a tape.

[speaking Russian]

[in English] And says that this is an illegal copy.

Mr. Rogers, I think we should vanish.

He thinks I stole Tetris?

Affirmative.

Uh, tell him I have my whole life and then some invested in this game.

He’s… He’s mistaken.

[translating continues]

[in Russian] I advise you to leave this government institution.

Otherwise, as a foreign citizen on a tourist visa,

you will be sent to prison for fraud and trespassing.

[in English] He says he is not mistaken.

Is that… Is that all he said?

Yes.

Sure. Okay, uh, tell him I’ll fix this.

We can figure out console…

[translating continues]

… and th… and then we can talk handheld.

[translating continues]

[speaking Russian]

[in English] He says return in the morrow at nine o’clock.

But I must warn you…

Okay. Okay, great. Thanks.

Thanks. [clears throat]

[translating continues]

You’re gonna… Okay.

Thank you.

[speaking Russian]

[in English] I need an international pay phone.

International pay phones do not exist in Soviet Union, Henk.

But I need to call home.

You don’t understand.

I convinced my wife to risk our home

so that I could afford Tetris video game rights,

and now I’m being told I don’t have them?

If I don’t fix this, I’m fucked.

Your hotel has phone.

Okay, great. Let’s go.

But you must wait in line as, uh, only few wires leave our great nation.

But h… how long?

Hmm, anywhere from eight hours to a week.

What?

Okay, but there’s a fax machine at the hotel, right?

Fax and telex are in government buildings only, Henk.

Mr. Rogers, a word.

Please.

[door slams]

Do you know who I am?

I’ve got an idea.

Good.

I assume your translator told you

foreigners are not allowed in government buildings without formal invitation.

Go home.

Understood?

[breathes shakily]

Mr. Maxwell, Valentin Trifonov,

Central Committee of the Communist Party, Department of Foreign Trade.

Welcome to Russia.

My father told me to expect Gorbachev.

You’re not Gorbachev.

And you’re not your father.

You’re here for Tetris, yes?

[sniffles]

Let’s see what we can arrange.

[people chattering]

Morning, Sasha.

Any chance I can cajole you into changing your mind?

Not a chance.

[in Russian] Ready?

[speaking Russian]

[Sasha, in English] Henk, this is Alexey Pajitnov,

the inventor of Tetris.

Wow, really?

Mr. Rogers…

[speaking Russian]

[in English] Henk, Mr. Belikov would like you to know that he doesn’t trust you.

[speaking Russian]

[in English] And you… Sorry, these are not my words… are a liar and a thief.

I’m also a horrible cook.

[translating in Russian]

[in English] That was a joke.

I don’t think he understood.

Yeah, I can see that.

[footsteps approaching]

[sighs]

[in Russian] Please, Mr Belikov continue.

[scoffs]

[in English] I’m sorry, but who… uh, who are you?

Please, sit.

The more important question here is who are you, Henk Rogers?

Your visa says you’re a tourist, but you’re not.

[sucks teeth] A crime.

Your Tetris game says you licensed it, but you did not.

Well, another crime.

So, here’s what I’m thinking.

You go home today, cease production of Tetris, all will be forgiven.

Or you stay and face the consequences.

[smacks lips]

I… I’m not going home without a deal.

Sorry.

“Sorry” will not work in our courts, Mr. Rogers.

[in Russian] Mr Belikov…

[in English] Alexey.

I just wanna say that your game is brilliant.

[translating in Russian]

[in English] Thank you. I speak English.

And I have so, so many questions.

But first, I want you to know that when I clear up this misunderstanding,

and hopefully secure handheld rights,

I’m gonna make you a millionaire.

Mr. Rogers.

Please, call me Henk.

Mr. Rogers, I do not have right to receive money from my game.

Well, that… that’s criminal.

No.

It is communism.

[in Russian] If that idiot’s a thief…

Jail him.

Are the other buyers here?

Keep them separated.

We are going to beat these capitalists at their own game.

[Henk, in English] Mr. Belikov,

if I’m a thief, why would I come to Moscow and proudly show you my game?

[Sasha translating in Russian]

[speaking Russian]

[in English] Because you want handheld rights.

Yeah, but if I already stole video game and arcade rights,

what would stop me from stealing handheld?

[translating continues]

[speaking Russian]

[in English] Mr. Belikov inquires as to why you mention arcade rights.

Uh, I bought Japanese arcade rights too,

only to find out that Mirrorsoft already licensed them to SEGA.

[translating continues]

[in English] Stop, stop, stop.

[speaking Russian]

[in English] ELORG never transacted arcade rights to anyone, Henk.

Wa… Wait, hold on.

So you’re saying the only version of Tetris you ever licensed

was for personal computers?

[translating continues]

Can I see the contract you signed?

[translating continues]

[in English] Please, it’ll help me understand what’s going on.

[translating continues]

‘Cause I… I don’t know if you know…

[translating continues]

…but Stein and Mirrorsoft are selling

Tetris video game and arcade rights worldwide.

[translating continues]

[unzips]

Mr. Belikov?

I’m, uh, Robert Stein.

I’m here to shore up contracts for arcade and handheld rights.

Uh, please, Mr. Stein. One minute.

Hmm? What?

Ah, Mr. Belikov.

Thank you very much for agreeing to meet.

[speaking Russian]

Mr. Belikov asks, “What is this?”

[smacks lips] Well, I suppose it’s Tetris for Nintendo in Japan.

But I’m here to discuss handheld rights, not video, so…

[speaking Russian]

[translator, in English] He asks if you authorized

the sale of Tetris video games to Henk Rogers.

Mr. Belikov, I run one of the largest media companies in Europe.

I don’t have time to meddle in the day-to-day aspects. [chuckles]

[speaking Russian]

[in English] So, you are saying that you have never seen this game?

No, I’m saying that we should move on to today’s business.

[speaking Russian]

[in English] Do you think it’s pirated?

I don’t know, maybe?

Can we talk about handheld Tetris?

[speaking Russian]

[in English] Tomorrow, thank you.

Yeah.

Fucking commie bastards.

[inhales]

Okay, I read the contract and I agree.

[translating in Russian]

You never intentionally sold video game rights to Robert Stein.

[translating continues]

[Henk] But here’s the thing…

[translating continues]

[gasps]

Okay, this is a Nintendo.

[translating continues]

And this is a personal computer.

What’s the difference?

No keyboard for Nintendo.

#video game beeps#

No keyboard for Ninte…

You speak English?

Of course you do.

Look, I’m sorry.

Robert Stein screwed you.

But legally speaking…

[taps desk]

…he didn’t steal from you, which means I didn’t steal from you.

Next time, define computers so you can hold on to your video game rights.

[clears throat]

And what about arcade?

There’s nothing in that contract about arcade rights.

That, Stein definitely stole from you.

How much are they worth?

$150,000.

Where does he keep running to?

Mr. Belikov.

Mr. Belikov.

[in Russian] No!

[in English] Alexey, we got off on the wrong foot.

Can I buy you dinner?

Mr. Rogers, I’m not for sale.

Is paragraph 40 a more prudent definition of PC computer?

“Whereas PC computers consist of processor,

monitor disk drive, and keyboard.”

Yeah, much better.

Keyboard.

But Stein signed years ago. What’s the point of this?

Oh, no. Please. You’re welcome.

Okay.

Okay. Wh-What is going on?

What is this?

New contract.

$150,000 for arcade rights? [chuckles]

Who the hell gave you these numbers?

Who gave SEGA the right to sell Tetris arcade in Japan?

Hmm?

If…

If I sign this contract, then we can discuss handheld rights, yes?

I-I-I need a night to… to… to… To read the contract. Hmm?

[speaking Russian]

[in English] He says we are done for the day.

But we haven’t discussed handheld yet.

[speaking Russian]

[in English] He says we will gallantly attack that in the morrow.

[taps desk]

Okay.

Alexey.

You want a lift?

I have car.

Oh.

Can I get a lift, then?

So, where you from?

I’m from Holland, but I grew up in New York.

My parents were Dutch with some Jewish and Indonesian blood.

I’m basically Eddie Van Halen.

[laughs]

Mr. Rogers, I don’t need small talk.

Look, believe it or not, I honestly want to get to know you.

If not as a business partner, then as a fan.

[gasps] Come to my hotel for dinner tonight.

No.

[Henk] Then can I come to your house?

Having a foreigner in one’s home is crime here.

So…

just call.

[scribbling]

Great.

Thanks for the ride.

Guess how long my meeting lasted?

Two minutes and three seconds.

You, sir, need better manners.

[translator] You are saying that you’ve never seen this game?

[Kevin] I’m saying that we should move…

[recording stops]

You are spying on me?

You bastard!

Careful, Kevin.

[sighs]

Let’s take a walk outside. Yes?

[Valentin] What are you offering for Tetris?

[Kevin groans] The exclusive publishing rights to our Collier’s Encycl…

No. How much money?

[sighs] The rights are worth two million dollars.

So, you know, it’s tit for tat.

Hmm.

More like tit for shit.

[snickers] Excuse me?

This is fucking Russia.

You people, you don’t care about money.

[sighs]

Where are you from, Mr. Maxwell?

What’s that got to do with it?

Me, I’m from Stavropol Krai.

My parents were kolkhoz, you know, sharecroppers.

They worked 18 hours a day on a state-owned farm.

The government took everything.

[sighs]

I realized very young that if I was going to succeed in this society,

I would need this. Only this.

[scoffs]

And unlike you, nobody helped me get to where I am today.

So, spare me the Bolshevik shit.

[sighs, smacks lips]

Communism is dying.

Soon I’ll be out of a job.

Like you, I want to walk away with the best deal.

You want me to bribe you? [gasps]

Is that what this is?

[scoffs]

No, no. I run an honest company.

[Valentin scoffs]

Nobody becomes a billionaire by being honest, Mr. Maxwell.

And nobody becomes a billionaire by trusting a dirty politico either.

If you are in search of a pawn, I do suggest you fuck off.

Good day.

[bird cawing]

$100,000, US, when I get the deal.

No.

That is not what I’m asking.

[in Russian] Boris

Stop recording.

[clicks]

[in English] 800,000.

Half up-front, wired to a Swiss account.

300, paid when I get handheld Tetris.

Oh. Perhaps I’ll ask Mr. Rogers.

Henk Rogers has no money.

He reps Nintendo, and they’d never bribe you.

And Robert Stein is too cheap, so don’t even bother threatening me with him.

400.

Final offer.

Okay then.

And, Mr. Trifonov?

Kevin does not need to know about any of this.

[clicks]

[dog barking]

[shouting in distance]

[shutter clicking]

[spouse, in Russian] Why are we taking the risk?

Especially after what happened to your father.

Have you ever tried to say no to an American?

[knocks]

It’s impossible.

[in English] Hello.

Hi.

That’s Maya. She’s ten.

Julie’s eight.

Michael, six.

Leo’s three.

And that is my wife, Akemi.

We met in college, in Hawaii,

fell in love, and I followed her back to Tokyo.

You have lived many places.

Yeah, I guess so.

How about you?

Oh, I lived only here.

In Moscow?

In this apartment.

[slurps]

So, Henk, how do you like Moscow?

Honestly?

It’s a bit confusing. [chuckles]

Russia is difficult country to love at first.

Much like our literature, it’s cold and dark on the outside.

But also romantic and inspired. [chuckles]

Nobody sees that side anymore.

How did you find Tetris, Henk?

I was at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, selling a game I had designed.

Then I saw your husband’s game…

And then you stole it.

[Alexey] Nina.

No, it… it’s fine.

I licensed it from a big company who lied to me.

But I’m here to make things right.

Because Tetris…

It’s that good.

[in Russian] He’s dumb. But he is honest.

[in English] So you are a game designer, Henk?

Mmm. And a programmer.

Well, though I’ve mostly been doing sales lately.

Pascal or assembler?

I was gonna ask you the same thing. [chuckles]

Um, I like Pascal.

Assembler is my go-to.

But never underestimate…

[both] …the power of BASIC.

[chuckles]

That’s spooky.

[laughs]

[computer starting up]

This is it?

The original?

[computer beeping]

Amazing.

[typing]

[computer beeping]

Can I play?

Yes.

[typing]

[computer beeping]

[Henk] It’s always been bugging me.

Why can’t both lines disappear at once instead of one at a time?

Um, because, uh…

[computer beeping]

[typing]

…I never thought of that.

[chuckles]

[Henk] We should allow up to four lines to disappear at once.

We should?

What?

Yeah.

Give it a try. No harm.

[typing]

[computer beeping]

[Henk smacks lips, groans]

[Alexey] Henk? Hmm.

Right.

Higher levels equals more points. So, you’d…

Sorry.

[laughs]

Close.

But we need something more.

Ha.

Life is hard, and we deserve our small celebrations.

Oh, I forgot how much fun this is.

[knocks]

What?

[both shush]

[whispering] Go.

[stammers]

Stay quiet. Go.

What’s…

Be quiet.

What is the…

Quiet!

[in Russian] Good evening. Do you have any salt?

Salt?

[neighbor, Alexey speaking Russian]

Neighbour.

Alexey, please!

[in English] What is…

Sorry, Henk, you have to go.

Okay.

But only if you come with me.

What?

We should go out. But not at some tourist bar.

Show me the real Moscow, where people like you hang out.

Henk, it is really not good idea. I’m…

Ah, yeah. I know, but sometimes you gotta say “fuck the rules,” right?

[sighs]

I mean, that’s why I came to Moscow.

And I think that’s why you invited me here tonight.

[electronic dance music plays]

[Alexey] This is the place.

More of what you had in mind, Henk, yes?

[chattering]

Yeah!

Aw. Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.

[speaking Russian]

[in English] Cheers.

Do you know these people?

I work with a few of them, yes.

Hmm. Love the music.

Look, personally, I… I prefer, uh, Mozart and, um, Russian folk songs.

Not, you know, uh… [laughs]

[imitates wind, laughs]

[Henk laughs]

[crowd cheering]

[shouting in Russian, cheers]

[cheering, applause]

[in English] What did she…

Folks.

[speaking Russian]

[in English] Uh, she has news from the Baltic states.

[speaking Russian]

[cheering]

[in English] Estonians have taken to the streets,

demanding independence from the Soviet Union.

[speaking Russian]

[in English] All of us are tired of the hypocrisy and the career politicians.

[cheering, shouting]

We all want freedom.

[speaking Russian]

[in English] Freedom of speech.

Freedom of art, of expression.

[speaking Russian]

[cheering]

[in English] We want Coca-Cola.

[cheers, laughs]

[laughs]

[speaking Russian]

[cheering]

[in English] And we want Levi’s jeans.

[speaking Russian]

[in English] And let’s drink for this.

[cheering]

[“The Final Countdown” playing]

[gasps] Aw. I love this song!

[crowd cheering]

[cheering]

[singing along]

Everybody knows the words.

Good ideas have no borders.

Come sing.

No, no, no, no, no, no.

Come on. Please?

I don’t sing. No.

[singing along]

[engine revs]

Come on. How can you resist!

[laughs]

[Henk] Alexey!

Now you see we aren’t so different.

Yes.

Thank you for bringing me here tonight.

It means a lot.

[children chattering]

Maya, we’re going home soon. Please clean up.

[chattering in Japanese]

[in English] Akemi Rogers?

We are from Russian Embassy in Tokyo.

Who let you in?

Do you know where your husband is?

Has your husband called?

[chattering]

[grunts, groans]

Well, if he does, tell him to come home.

[groans]

Immediately.

[groans]

[children chattering]

You have beautiful children.

[grunts]

[children laughing]

Go home!

[groans, grunts]

And thanks for the Levi’s.

Translator?

[Henk] No, thank you.

[softly] What the f…

[door opens]

[elevator bell dings]

Henk.

Thank goodness you’re okay. [gasps]

What… [sighs]

[door closes]

They searched my apartment too.

But I don’t get it.

I’m trying to help you guys. Why am I a threat?

You’re a foreigner attempting to buy Russian property.

To many, that is tantamount to… to treason.

It’s just a video game.

To you, yes.

But to the men in power it is a slippery slope

from selling one game to selling all of Russia to the highest bidder.

Henk, don’t sacrifice everything for this.

I…

I’m married.

I didn’t…

You gotta go.

[in Russian] Good Morning!

Peter and Dmitri.

My little tennis stars.

Off to school?

You have a good papa

For taking you so early after being out so late last night.

[in English] Papa, who is he?

English? [scoffs]

Impressive.

Oh, your mother Nina is an English teacher, yes?

Well, that’s a good job.

Steady salary.

Has your father ever told you what happened to his father?

Uh… No?

Well, he should.

‘Cause, you know, history has a very strange way of repeating itself.

[inhales, puffs]

[speaking Russian]

[engine starts]

[knocks]

[desk clerk, in English] Mr. Rogers?

International phone is ready. You have three minutes.

Come on. Come on.

[line ringing]

Come on, come on, pick up.

[Maya, in Japanese] Hello

[in English] Maya.

It’s Papa.

[in Japanese] Papa! Are you coming home?

My school concert is soon and we did a rehearsal today

and my teacher said I sound like an angel and…

[Maya continues]

[in English] Maya, honey.

I promise I’ll be home for your concert,

but right now I need to speak to your mother.

[in Japanese] It sucks not being able to talk to you.

Maya let me speak.

[in English] Henk?

Hi. Uh, I need you to call our lawyer,

have him fax ELORG my contract with Mirrorsoft,

and have him draft up a new contract for handheld Tetris.

I’ll fill in the details. ELORG’s number is +7 495 442 481.

Okay?

[shakily] Henk.

Some Russians came into the office, threatening me to tell you to come home.

What?

[line disconnects]

[stammering] Akemi?

[dial tone]

[dial tone]

Oh, shit.

[handset settles in cradle]

[both] You son of a bitch.

[both] Taxi!

-Taxi!

Why is Henk Rogers here, hmm?

Are you trying to, uh, play us off against each other, hmm?

‘Cause if you’re trying to screw with me, I swear…

Mr. Stein, have you read your revised contract?

Yes.

Yes, I did. It… It’s not fair.

You… You… You charge far too much for arcade rights.

And why should I sign a new contract for the PC rights

that I already own fair and square, hmm?

Oh, okay, okay. Huh?

I’ll… I’ll sign, but then we discuss the handheld rights, yes?

[groans]

Okay, handheld. How much?

We’ll come back.

No.

No, no. No!

Mr. Belikov, with all due respect, what the hell is going on?

First, one of your cronies threatens me,

then you threaten my wife in Japan,

my hotel room gets trashed,

and now I find out you’re negotiating with Robert Stein.

After all he’s done to you?

This, this is insane.

I am the only honest guy here!

[in Russian] You’re all swindlers.

You’re all here just for the money.

[in English] What? I don’t speak Russian. I don’t have my translator.

And where’s Alexey?

You guys, you think that I’m the enemy?

You’re wrong. This isn’t about the money anymore.

It’s about giving Alexey his due and showing the world

the Soviet Union is about more than just missiles and military might.

[laughs]

[laughs]

[laughing]

[mumbling]

What is that?

Your contract with Mirrorsoft.

Proving that I didn’t steal from you.

And behind that is my new offer.

There are no numbers on it.

$25,000, up-front, for worldwide handheld rights, plus 25 cents per unit sold.

$25,000?

[laughs] Why so little?

Because, to be honest, I got no money left.

But the royalties I’m offering are more than fair.

[Belikov sighs]

How many games you expect to sell?

Conservative estimate, a million.

My estimate is 20 million.

That means you get five million dollars.

Uh… Oh, come on. You guys are the kings of cliff-hangers!

[Valentin speaking Russian]

A word, please.

I have been following your negotiations.

You’ve done a masterful job.

It’s all for the Soviet Union, Comrade Trifonov.

Good.

Because the state has decided that Tetris will go to Mirrorsoft.

Good.

Let’s go.

[in English] Ah, Mr. Be… Oh, for fuck…

What’s he doing here?

Foreign Trade is my department, Mr. Maxwell.

[sighs] Okay.

[clears throat] Mr. Belikov,

Mirrorsoft is prepared to offer the Russian publishing rights

to its Collier’s Encyclopedias, worth two million dollars,

in exchange for worldwide handheld Tetris.

And royalties?

Oh, for Christ’s sake, Mr. Belikov.

I just offered you the deal of a lifetime.

[clears throat]

[sighs] We are prepared to give you deal, Mr. Maxwell, but times…

[chuckles] …times are changing.

Uh, we are held accountable for our decisions.

You see, choosing the offer with no real money looks

suspicious.

[scoffs]

Okay.

Fine, fine.

All expenditures have to be approved by my board, mind you.

But, unofficially, I can offer ELORG one million US dollars by the end of week.

And royalties?

Ah, Jesus fucking Christ.

[in Russian] That’s enough.

[in English] What did he say?

[sighs]

[Belikov] One million dollars…

added to letter of intent.

We promise Mirrorsoft worldwide handheld Tetris,

if you wire us one million dollars in one week.

Well, gentlemen,

looks like we, uh… [chuckles]

…we have ourselves a deal.

[Kevin grunts]

Let me walk you out.

But we’re not finished…

Now!

Mr. Belikov, the exit is this way.

Shut up.

Is everything all right?

You have one week to make an offer for worldwide handheld rights.

You have my offer.

I’m ready to sign now. What is going on?

You must sign a letter of intent first. It’s protocol.

Are you lying to me, Belikov?

Listen.

If you knew the risk I’m taking right now, you wouldn’t ask that.

Please sign.

Please.

[shutter clicking]

And one more thing.

If you would like to make an offer for worldwide video game rights,

ELORG is open to deal.

What? Stein has the worldwide video game rights.

No, he doesn’t.

I redefined “computer.”

Stein needed arcade rights, so, he signed a new contract.

Why are you helping me, Belikov?

I’m doing what is the best for my country.

Go home, Henk Rogers, and come back with your Nintendo crew to make a real offer.

Where were you today?

Doesn’t matter.

We did it.

Handheld rights and they’re promising worldwide video game rights too.

Get in.

[door slams]

[engine starts]

[in Russian] Dzerzhinsky Square.

[engine revving]

[in English] You don’t have your car?

I don’t want to be followed.

When I was a boy, uh, my father was professor at Moscow University.

And in 1965, a colleague of his was jailed for selling his book abroad.

Just for selling his book?

Yes.

And my father signed, uh, a letter of protest,

which was the right thing to do.

But the Soviet retribution was swift.

He lost his professorship and was barred from holding a real job ever again,

and it ruined him.

And it ruined my family.

And I promised myself that I would never put my kids through that kind of hell.

But they are doing it again, Henk.

And this time, to me.

[shouting]

[car approaching]

[brakes squeal]

[engine turns off]

Do you know what that building is?

Well, you should, because they’ve been watching your every move.

Wait. That’s…

That’s the member of the Communist Party at Central Committee,

one of the most powerful men in USSR.

Speaking to his agent.

[Henk] KGB?

Sasha is KGB?

But she’s…

Why?

Because you are a threat.

You represent everything our country has fought against for 80 years.

And he just found out that ELORG promised you Tetris.

[in Russian] Airport right away!

[engine starts]

[Maya singing in Japanese]

[Henk] Tell them it’s important.

It’s about Tetris. I’m laid over in Korea, but only for an hour.

Sorry, Mr. Rogers. They’re in a meeting.

Can I take a message?

[Henk] Uh, no, uh… I wanna tell them myself.

I’ll call when I’m home. Thanks.

[singing continues]

Gentlemen. Robert Maxwell, Chairman of the Mirror Group. Pleasure.

Minoru Arakawa.

This is Howard Lincoln, my senior VP and chief legal counsel.

How can we help you today, sir?

[singing continues]

I think I’ve got something you want.

Kevin, are you there?

Yes.

It’s good news, gentlemen.

[audience applauding]

[fax machine whirs, beeps]

[Valentin, in Russian] You see Nikolai Evgenievich…

Unlike you, I put our country first.

Don’t hurt him too much. He still has work to do.

[grunting, groaning]

[shouting in Russian]

[thudding]

[in English] Oh, shit.

Maya?

Jesus. No.

[whirring]

[gasps]

[fax machine beeps]

Oh, no.

[phone ringing]

[ringing continues]

Hello?

Henk, it’s Howard Lincoln.

Listen, I thought I should call you and tell you in person.

I… I don… I don’t, um…

I’m sorry, you didn’t get the, uh, Game Boy rights for Tetris.

We gotta go with Mirrorsoft.

You understand, right?

Hello?

They’re lying, Howard. Everybody’s lying.

They’re blackmailing me so I keep my mouth shut.

But I’m telling you, Mirrorsoft doesn’t even have the video game rights…

Henk, relax. We just got a fax from ELORG confirming Mirrorsoft’s license.

It’s legit, okay?

We’ll find something else to work on.

[stammers] Wait, wait.

[Howard] All right? Bye-bye.

[line disconnects]

[thudding]

[Akemi] You done?

[sighs]

The Maxwells screwed me, Akemi. They took everything.

You missed your daughter’s concert.

Did you hear what I just said?

[in Japanese] Did you hear what I just said?

[in English] We’ve got nothing left.

Nothing!

It’s over, and you’re giving me shit about missing a concert?

M… Maya! Sh…

[in Japanese] You selfish prick

[in English] Honey? [breathes shakily]

It’s fine.

Everything is gonna be fine.

Because if it isn’t, then we don’t have handheld rights,

and we don’t have console rights.

And Nintendo will sue us for fraud,

and we’ll lose the business, and they’ll probably take our house.

And I am trying to keep it together, Akemi, really I am.

But I do not have a backup plan.

[breathes shakily]

I just… I just need you to understand

that I did this because I am trying to build a life for us.

We had a life.

[sighs]

[dog barking]

[in Russian] Can I come in?

I devoted my life to this country,

the great idea of it.

But…

I can’t do it…

…This country doesn’t exist any more.

We’re turning into a nation of thieves.

Tetris is going to Mirrorsoft.

And I will be removed from my position at ELORG once the deal is signed.

But you can still make this right.

Get this to Henk Rogers.

He’ll know what to do.

[fax machine printing]

[sighs]

[both speaking Russian]

Hi

Hi

[gasps] Fire!

[fax machine beeping]

[fire alarm ringing]

What are you doing back there?

[fire alarm continues]

#video game chirping#

[fax machine rings]

[fax machine prints]

[chattering]

[shredders whirring]

[in English] Kevin, my boy. Okay, get out.

What the hell is going on?

Spring cleaning, is all.

Shredding redundant balance sheets we had made for our auditors.

How are you? Congratulations on Tetris.

I need one million US dollars, and accounting’s saying we don’t have it.

Why do you need a million dollars?

Why do I… [clicks tongue] For Tetris.

Son, we don’t have to pay the Russians anything.

We’re giving them the encyclopedias.

No, no, no. It was a competitive bid, and that’s the deal I struck.

The deal is, I am friends with Mikhail Gorbachev.

Stop with your damn “we’re friends” bit!

The Soviet Union is about to implode.

Everyone’s snatching up what they can, and Gorbachev can’t do a thing about it!

Calm down, Kevin. Don’t have a hissy fit. You’re not a child.

Then stop treating me like one.

We don’t have the money, do we?

Of course we do.

But it’s tied up.

Okay.

I’ll call the bank. I’ll get a loan.

No. I wouldn’t do that.

Jesus Christ, Father. You said we were fine.

We are fine.

Once we secure Tetris from the Russians and sign with Nintendo,

we’ll be in the black.

Okay.

But who’s going to convince the Russians to give us Tetris for no money?

Leave it to me.

Good job, Son.

Let’s sue the fuck out of them. This is the lowest of the low.

But that doesn’t solve the problem.

We can send a cease and desist.

Sir. Excuse me, sir. You can’t…

Sir, they’re in a meeting.

Well, this meeting is over.

[Howard] What the hell is he doing here?

Read this.

Henk, we don’t have time.

Read it!

What the fuck is that?

[Howard] Atari stole our patent.

They hacked the NES, now manufacturing and selling our cartridges.

Guess what their first game is.

They do not have the rights.

They do in America. I checked.

No, they don’t.

[Howard] What?

Who the hell is “A”?

Alexey Pajitnov.

“Henk, ELORG and Mirrorsoft lie.

No rights for Tetris granted.

Come back and make offer ASAP.” What’s he mean, “no rights?”

You’re looking at Mirrorsoft’s contract,

which is just a letter of intent that expired yesterday.

[Howard] So handheld rights are…

Available.

[Minoru] And video game?

Available.

Worldwide.

But that means…

I don’t have video game rights in Japan, because Stein and Mirrorsoft

never had the right to sell them to me, or to these guys.

Wait, you’re telling me Atari doesn’t have Tetris in America?

I’m telling you Atari doesn’t have Tetris anywhere.

What makes you so sure this Alexey character isn’t lying?

Because he’s the only one who stands to gain nothing from this.

What do you need from us?

I need you and your checkbooks to get on a plane with me to Moscow ASAP.

And tell nobody.

[airplane whooshes]

[tires screech]

#video game beeps#

[in Russian] He’s back.

And he brought friends.

MOSCOW COMPUTER SCIENCE CENTER

Hello

[dog barking in distance]

What are you doing?

What is going on?

Damn.

Stop.

What are you doing?

Sasha!

What is this?

You’re moving.

Where? Why? This is my home! This was my parents’ home. You can’t!

What’s going on?

Your husband broke the law.

I got a call to say the boys were sent home from school?

[child shouting]

Which will fall faster?

Quick!

Neither!

[coins jingling]

Aha.

[speaking Russian]

[Dmitri] Mama, papa!

We’re studying gravity in school! He’s showing us an experiment.

That’s right.

An ‘experiment’.

Which one will fall faster? Quick!

Chair?

Mmm, mmm.

Ah, this is where gravity gets tricky.

The chair should fall faster because it’s heavier, right?

Yes

But it won’t.

Listen,

[crashing]

[bystander screams]

[dog barking]

gravity doesn’t care

if you’re as light as a coin

or as heavy as a…

Boy.

Everything falls at the same speed.

[Nina speaks Russian]

Boys. Go and help your mother pack.

Henk Rogers is back because of you.

Ruining your life was easy.

Cross me again and you will no longer exist.

Just like your friend Henk.

[gasps]

[groaning]

[footsteps approaching]

[Henk, in English] Mr. Belikov.

Are you okay?

Sorry for my tardiness.

So, you want to see… [clears throat] …new games.

No. We’re here for Tetris.

But I already informed you via fax that Tetris transaction is dead.

Uh-huh.

And I assume you gave Mirrorsoft the same deal you gave me.

A week to make an offer for Tetris handheld.

Ha… Have they?

Didn’t think so. Here. Here’s our offer.

For video game and handheld Tetris. Worldwide.

[Howard] The money’s up-front. We’ll cover all marketing and manufacturing,

and give you 50 cents per unit sold on both handheld and video games.

One dollar per unit sold.

Great. Let’s sign, and we can go home.

No.

[in Russian] Please listen, I’m negotiating what’s best for our country.

Protection of the government’s property and decision making is our responsibility.

[in English] He says ELORG needs night to go over contract.

It’s protocol.

She is correct.

It is protocol.

Good. Time to go, gentlemen.

I have another appointment.

[footsteps departing]

Five million dollars?

And where is your money, Mr. Maxwell?

I am not going to match five million fucking dollars.

[Valentin] And you don’t have to.

All you have to do is wire ELORG the one million your son promised them.

Tetris is yours.

You have 24 hours.

[in Russian] Why is it so important that the Maxwells win?

Isn’t the offer with more money better for the Soviet Union?

[lighter clicks]

I’ll concern myself with the fate of the Soviet Union.

You go and do your job.

Dismissed.

[scoffs]

[Kevin, in English] Father! Father.

Not right now.

Nintendo just offered the Russians five million dollars

for worldwide video game and handheld rights.

I already know. Jo.

[Jo] Yes.

Wait.

Did you say they offered on handheld and video game rights?

Yes.

Impossible.

We already have worldwide video game rights.

We licensed them from…

[Stein] Kevin!

You son of a bitch.

[grunts]

[people gasp]

You were in Moscow.

You made a deal behind my back.

Got ELORG to change my contract, cutting me out!

Someone call security!

And you, Robert,

I found Tetris for you and you pay me no royalties!

And now, because of your greed, the Russians erased us from the profits.

What are you talking about?

They redefined the word “computer” in my new contract, huh?

Cutting me out of video games so you can steal it!

We didn’t sign any new video game contracts.

[pants]

Oh, you fucking fool!

I am a fucking fool?

The bratty son of a billionaire

who’s never done an honest day’s work in his life calls me a fool?

You self-entitled piece of… [screams]

[gasps]

[grunting, groaning]

[both grunting]

Come on, mate. Get off! [grunts]

Off! Off me!

Off! Off!

[screams, grunts]

You, all of you,

you’re all working for thieves!

Huh?

Thieves!

Jo, have the jet ready in an hour.

I’m going to Moscow.

[people murmuring]

[dog barking]

[shouting in distance]

Mr. Maxwell. Welcome to…

Fucking you again?

Ah, gentlemen, welcome.

Apologies, but I am gaining weight and need new suit for today’s celebration.

You look great, General Secretary.

[scoffs] And you are bad liar, my friend.

[Maxwell laughs]

How can I help you?

Unfortunately, this isn’t a social call.

My son and I are here because there is an American businessman in Moscow

who’s been manipulating your bureaucrats

into giving him the rights to a Russian video game

that my company already had a deal on.

In fact, he’s just offered your people five million US dollars.

And?

And if this deal goes through, it will set a dangerous precedent.

And what is that?

That communism is dead.

So, you are here to save my country?

Once you let capitalists through your gates, they will never leave.

And what are you?

As you said, I am your friend.

We are proposing a fair trade where no money is exchanged.

You get the publishing rights to our Collier’s Encyclopedias,

and we get the game.

An exchange of information.

I appreciate your benevolence, Robert, but, uh, my country is broken.

My people want freedom.

Freedom to vote, to choose their destiny.

Communism was never meant to prevent freedom.

But, unfortunately, human greed got in the way.

The world is changing, gentlemen, and Soviet Union will not be left behind.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have speech to prepare.

Would you like my advice?

Respectfully, Mr. Trifonov, we’ve got this far without you, so do fuck off.

Just get me Tetris.

[in Russian] Get me everything you know on him.

The foreigner?

No.

The politician.

[marching music plays]

Comrade Gorbachev, look at the respect they show you.

[chattering]

[baby crying]

[in English] Alexey.

[singsongy] Told you I’d be back.

You shouldn’t have come.

What?

You’re the reason I’m here.

You misinterpreted me.

[scoffs]

You literally said, “Come back and make an offer ASAP.”

I was wrong. You don’t deserve it.

Alexey, what’s up? We’re friends.

We are not.

You used me to get what you want.

That is… How could you say that?

I’m doing this for us.

You are doing it for you.

I don’t stand to profit a penny from this.

I’ll make sure you do.

It’s not gonna be eas…

Stop making promises you cannot keep.

We come from different worlds.

You go back to yours, and I’ll return to mine.

[Gorbachev, in Russian] “70 years from our glorious revolution”

This is a time of change…

But I am confident the USSR…

Henk Rogers’ team are heading to ELORG.

[Gorbachev] Will come out of it stronger than ever.

[spectators cheering, applauding]

Walkie Talkie!

Where is Henk Rogers now!

[Sasha] Heading north on Boshaya Ordynka.

[Valentin] Don’t let these capitalists get to ELORG!

All agents to ELORG! Repeat. All agents to ELORG.

[engine starts]

[tires squeal]

[in English] This is not a counteroffer.

Correct. It is our first offer and final offer.

Our IP for your IP.

And we’ll be taking back our video game rights too.

Thank you.

[footsteps approaching]

What the bloody hell is this?

Choice.

They can choose your shit deal, or our fair deal.

[whispering, indistinct]

What?

The cavalry is coming, boys.

Our agreement guarantees us Tetris if we make a counteroffer,

which we just did.

Depending on payment of one million dollars.

Fuck you. Sign the deal.

Honor the contract.

You have less than one minute before heads roll.

Mr. Belikov, do not fall for his shit. Every…

Father, just pay him the pity money.

You don’t have the money.

That explains never paying any royalties.

Father, what the fuck is happening?

Nothing.

It’s an accounting quirk to be resolved next quarter.

Meaning, you’re bankrupt.

Enough! I could have you all arrested.

Can we get this done, please?

Mr. Belikov.

You bastard.

[groans, grunts]

Out.

You are not safe until you leave Moscow. Go.

[footsteps departing]

Where are they?

Gone, you idiot.

What?

With our deal.

Maxwell has no money. He voided the contract.

I had no choice.

I run a billion-dollar corporation. Of course I have money.

Just not at this exact moment.

What about my money?

What do you mean your money?

[Kevin] Yes, what do you mean your money?

Are you fucking…

What, you bribed this piece of shit?

Behind my back?

Oh, shut up.

I was saving your arse, per usual.

You wanna play with the big boys, Son?

This is how the world works. Suck it up.

Where is my money, Robert?

I delivered you Tetris on a silver fucking platter.

All you had to do was pay. Where is my money?

[in Russian] Comrade Trifonov we work for our country…

You whore yourself.

[gasps]

[in English] Fine.

Get me back my contract, and I will personally double your fee.

No.

Triple.

I don’t trust your money.

I want 50% ownership of Tetris.

Deal.

[door opens, closes]

Commie bastards.

[tires squealing]

[horn honking]

Get in!

[Henk] Come on, get in!

[Henk] Go! Go, go, go, go, go!

[spectators cheering]

[no audible dialogue]

How’d you know where to find us?

It was easy. I thought, “What would I never do?”

[chuckles]

[Minoru] Behind us!

[tires squeal]

[engine revving]

[in Russian] Drive faster!

[horn honks]

[tires squeal]

[in English] Whoa, Alexey! Alexey! Whoa!

[in Russian] What flights are leaving in the next hour?

#video game boings, whooshes#

[in English] Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!

[tires squeal]

[screams]

We can make it!

There’s no room!

[horn honks]

Do you trust me?

[horn honks]

[Henk] Whoa!

Oh, my God.

[horn honks]

[in Russian] Come on! come on!

[announcer speaking Russian]

[announcer continues]

[announcer, in English] Flight 702 to Zurich is now boarding.

Please proceed to the gate.

[crowd murmuring]

[ticket agent] Next.

What’s your next flight out?

[in Russian] We need backup.

[in English] Let’s go.

[ticket agent speaking Russian]

[announcer, in English] Flight 802 to Tokyo via Seoul is now boarding.

Please proceed to the gate.

[travelers chattering]

Come on, come on, come on, come on.

[siren wailing in distance]

They’re coming.

[siren wailing]

[tires squeal]

[speaking Russian]

[announcer speaking Russian]

Sweep the room.

[in English] You need to get out of here.

No.

I’m staying until you’re safely through.

Alexey, you’ve risked enough.

Please get out of here before they catch you.

This is not goodbye, I promise.

[sighs]

I know how much you hate that word.

But, man, I really mean it.

No. It’s no time for American emotion.

[customs agent] Next!

Go.

Reason for travel?

I’m a tourist.

[screams]

[grunts]

Excuse me.

[speaks Russian]

[screams, shouts]

[speaking Russian]

[flight attendant speaking Russian]

[speaking Russian]

[flight attendant] Please take your seats for departure.

Move out the way!

Where is the plane to Tokyo?

Gate 6…

But it’s closed!

[flight attendant speaking Russian]

OFFICIAL BUSINESS!

We ask that you fasten your seatbelts…

Open the door!

OFFICIAL BUSINESS!

Sorry, we have a slight delay…

Now!

[flight attendant 2, in English] Ladies and gentlemen,

welcome to flight 802 to Tokyo.

We are now getting ready to depart.

[in Russian] What the fuck?

[flight attendant 2] Please fasten your seat belt.

[in Russian] Son of a…

They’re on the other plane!

[hammer cocks]

Valentin Igorovich…

By order of the Secretary General…

You are hereby under arrest for abuse of authority and corruption.

[scoffs] No

What the fuck is this?

Move!

You broke the law.

I am the law!

[pants]

Get them out of my way.

[sniffles]

[grunts]

[laughs]

Is it because I called you a whore?

[laughs]

This is the end of our country.

You hear me?

The fucking end.

The fucking end!

It will all fall!

[flight attendant 3, in English] Welcome to flight 702 to Zurich.

We hope you enjoy your flight with us today.

Maya.

[in Japanese] If you would do me the honour, I would love to watch the performance I wish I hadn’t missed.

Please…

OK

I’ll get ready.

I made a promise to you

Which didn’t go the way I hoped.

Until now.

[singing in Japanese]

[news anchor 1, in English] Christmas ’89 is about to get a lot more exciting with a brand-new gift under the tree. It’s called the Game Boy.

[news anchor 2] Protests are taking place across the Soviet Union.

[news anchor 1] Its maker, Nintendo, has already sold out twice in Japan.

And it’s on its way to doing the same thing in America, where sales have exceeded $110 million this holiday season.

And demand is showing no signs of letting up.

[news anchor 2] Borders are being opened across Eastern Europe.

[news anchor 1] That is in no small part thanks to Tetris, the hit new game that has entire families clamoring to play.

[news anchor 2] Mikhail Gorbachev has resigned, and the red flag has been lowered at the Kremlin.

[in Russian] Is this good news or bad news?

Probably both.

This came for you.

From Henk.

[in English] …for five minutes. Mom really needs the bed.

[gasps] Here they come.

Welcome to your new home, buddy.

Is now a good time for American emotion?

[chuckles]

The TV doesn’t work. Video doesn’t work.

I’ve read everything I can read.

Next stop is, uh, the Moscow Go Club.

[chuckles]

[Henk Rogers] Your name is Alla?

Okay, Alla is going to take us to the Russian Go Association.

And she has also located ELORG for us.

This is Alexey Pajitnov.

He is the author of Tetris.

Okay, well sort of.

I play Tetris with my friends.

[Henk Rogers chuckles]

[Henk Rogers] Okay.

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