Apple TV+ turns Tetris into a Cold War thriller – and I'm not making this up

Don't worry, Apple hasn't been eating cheese before bedtime. It turns out Tetris has a fascinating history

Tetris on Apple TV
(Image credit: Apple)

I'll be honest. When I heard that Apple was making Tetris into a movie for Apple TV+, I greeted the news with the same enthusiasm I'd had for The Emoji Movie. For all my love of Tetris Effect on my Xbox Series X and on PlayStation VR (it's coming to PSVR 2 too), which is surprisingly emotional in places, there's no way that game can justify a full movie.

I was wrong, because I was looking in the wrong place. The Tetris story isn't whatever justification there is in the game for putting blocks together. It's the story of how the game was made. And that's what Apple TV+ has made a movie about. It'll start streaming on 31 March and it sounds like it might be an unexpectedly great watch.

Don't be fooled by the blocks that it's got

It turns out that Tetris became embroiled in a huge clash between the USSR, the UK, Japan and the USA. The film centres on the story of entrepreneur Henk Rogers, who discovered Tetris in 1988 and was convinced that if he could bring it to America, it'd be a monster hit.

He was right, but he didn't realise what he was getting into. Intellectual property rights didn't exist in the Soviet Union, where Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov lived and worked; his superiors weren't keen on him exporting the game and it became embroiled in a mess of confusion, claims and counter-claims, blatant greed and corporate skullduggery. Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev even got involved.

You've got to admire an adaptation of a game about geometric blocks that turns it into a Cold War thriller, and that's enough for me to put Tetris on my to-watch list: the trailer, which I've embedded below, features some great visual flourishes and looks like it'll be a lot of fun. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (