Disney to produce film on Kasparov vs. Deep Blue

9/30/2013 – Recently we reviewed an extraordinary play, staged in Manchester, England. Its subject: the legendary 1997 chess match between Garry Kasparov and Deep Blue. This month "The Machine" moved to The Armory in New York, where it was a tremendous success. Now we learn that Walt Disney Studios has bought the movie rights and so Kasparov, chess and computers will soon be on the silver screen.

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Disney planning film on Kasparov vs. Deep Blue

Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Walt Disney Studios has purchased the screen rights to Matthew Charman's play The Machine. Charman will adapt his play about the 1997 chess match between the IBM computer Deep Blue and its designer Dr. Hsu, pitted against World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov.

Playwright Matt Charman, who wrote The Machine

The Machine in The Armory


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The Park Avenue Armory, where The Machine was staged, is a not-for-profit cultural institution on New York City's Upper East Side. Since taking over the building in December 2006, Park Avenue Armory’s mission has been to revitalize the landmark building as a center for unconventional works in the performing and visual arts, while simultaneously maintaining and restoring the historic aspects of the building.

The Machine made its U.S. premiere earlier this month at the Park Avenue Armory

Taken in August 2013, this time-lapse shows the process of building the stage and seating for The Machine. The play was staged with arena-style seating that put the audience in the center of the action.

Rourke’s production, with its swooping cameras and choreographed chess games,
is a whirl of activity and boasts strong performances,” Michael Billington wrote in The Guardian

Electrifying action in The Machine – and no, we were there, he did not do this in 1997

Photos from the Park Avenue Armory permiere by Stephanie Berger

Reviews of The Machine

  • ChessBase: A play based on Kasparov vs Deep Blue
    It's called The Machine and it played in July in Manchester. If you live in America you can catch it at the Park Avenue Armory in September. And maybe you are going to have to, since it appears to be a well-made, dramatically compelling stage production that captures the atmosphere of the monumental battle between man and machine. Allan Beardsworth caught it in Manchester.

  • New York Times: Gladiators Battling on the Chess Board
    The 1997 encounter was hardly your average chess match, and “The Machine” presents it as a high-tech gladiatorial spectacle. What Mr. Charman calls the “natural drama” was not lost on experts at the time. “It had the impact of a Greek tragedy,” Monty Newborn, the chairman of the chess committee for the Association for Computing, said in a 1997 article in The New York Times.

  • New York Times: Analyzing the Moves of a King
    The play’s action switches fluidly between the present tense of 1997, when Kasparov meets Deep Blue in a televised match in Manhattan, and memories of earlier events, triggered by those literal-minded mnemonic keywords that so often occasion flashbacks in movies.

  • Slant: Anti-Capitalist Tragedy – Matt Charman's The Machine
    The real game being played isn't over the chessboard, but between the online media stream and the global network of potential customers for IBM hardware and software. Mankind's dignity isn't on the line; stock prices are.

  • Broad Street Review: Man vs. Machine
    IBM was struggling to keep its place in the world market against the rising Microsoft. It hired Taiwan-born Feng-Hsiung Hsu to invent a computer program that could defeat Kasparov with the whole world watching, thereby making a corporate comeback and raising its stock significantly.

  • BBC: Stage set for Kasparov v Deep Blue chess thriller
    The ground-breaking chess battle between Garry Kasparov and computer Deep Blue in 1997 was a pivotal moment in the relationship between man and technology. Matt Charman's new play The Machine explores the human drama at its centre.

  • The Telegraph: Review by Dominic Cavendish
    If the evening doesn’t entirely make the case for chess as a source of riveting drama, it cogently suggests that this duel between mortal neurons and programmed circuitry wasn’t some diverting sideshow but an existential confrontation of the highest order.

  • The Independent: Review by Paul Vallely
    When the interval arrived during The Machine I realised I had been so engrossed by the play that I had forgotten to take a single note during the first half. Charman is no ordinary playwright, as his immensely compelling firecracker script revealed.

Breathless review of the Armory production by Andrew+Andrew in New York

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