2022-11-25 11:37:00

Montreal studio B Df'rent Games acquires worldwide rights to the brand images and materials of Charlie Chaplin

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Open to collaborations to produce a first video game in 2023, the company has also received an investment from incubator Indie Asylum

MONTREAL, Nov. 25, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ - Quebec-based studio B Df'rent Games is now the exclusive worldwide licensee and long-term developer of software games based on the images, films, music and archival materials of legendary actor, writer and director Charlie Chaplin. The agreement reached with his heirs covers the rights for games for cell phones, personal computers, consoles, and for any future interactive digital products.

Almost 45 years after Chaplin's death, the estate of the filmmaker has agreed to grant game rights for the first time ever, a clear sign of his family's trust in B Df'rent Games. "I've known the Chaplins for about 15 years and was even a neighbour to Geraldine – Charlie's daughter – for about 10 years when I lived in Europe," said Yves Durand, museum designer and co-founder of B Df'rent Games. "Our bond of friendship, respect and trust that developed over time is what made this agreement possible."

The company's co-founder added that the family is not focused on the commercial aspect of future Chaplin-related products. "When they make a business decision, his children only think about whether their father would have been on board with the idea. The family focuses more on the moral and societal legacy of their father's work. These are values that we care about too and by demonstrating these shared values during our discussions, allowed this agreement to be finalized after eight months of negotiations."

This is not the first collaboration involving the work and life of Charlie Chaplin, as from 2000-2016 Yves Durand conceived of and co-founded the Chaplin's World museum in Corsier-sur Vevey Switzerland at the site of the Manoir de Ban estate, where Chaplin and his large family lived from 1952 until his death in 1977.

A thoroughly modern symbol

For Yves Durand, both the character of The Little Tramp and the themes of Chaplin's films are as relevant as ever. "In movies like The Great Dictator, The Kid, Modern Times, The Immigrant, or The Tramp, Chaplin dealt with issues still applicable in 2022, such as dictatorship, immigration, poverty, and war. Charlie Chaplin's iconic Tramp is both a relevant and much-needed figure who can bring light amidst the gloom of current events. We need to look through his eyes to laugh at our modern foolishness and sense of futility."

For its future productions, B Df'rent Games intends to respect the "subversive compassion" that it sees as inherent to this character. "If The Little Tramp had just been some ordinary person, he would not have been as interesting. He became incredibly popular worldwide because he was the ultimate 'drifter' who embodied a kind of Robin Hood who was marginalized by the self-righteous people of his time. He was both irreverent yet very likeable. He owned nothing but wanted to share everything. In his own way, he was the very first influencer who strove for greater fraternity, justice and solidarity in the world."

Many potential variations

B Df'rent Games co-founder Robert Young thinks that Chaplin is a perfect fit with the studio's entertainment and education mission. "The Little Tramp was and remains an apolitical voice. His iconic stature gives him the power to deliver important messages through fun storytelling. We will follow in his footsteps to try to make our world a better place."

The entrepreneur believes that the character has immense potential for gaming. "Gamers will really take to him," he says. "While The Little Tramp is of course a character from the silent and black-and-white film era, there are many ways to introduce him to a whole new generation using game platforms. Internally we often say "Chaplin is Back"; a phrase which embodies our goals but also allows us to modernize the character and give him some more contemporary features."

Yves Durand adds that he has no doubt that The Little Tramp will become popular with young people. "When we opened Chaplin's World, we held focus groups with children under the age of 10 who immediately saw the magic in him and embraced him. Chaplin is a bit like the circus: he brings everyone together, no matter what background or generation you come from."

A call to the entire industry

Inspired by the openness of both the man and the character, and aware of the strong commercial potential from these exclusive worldwide rights, B Df'rent Games is open to collaborating with gaming professionals, studios and other companies interested in the Chaplin brand. "We want Montreal to be to video games, what Hollywood is to movies. Chaplin is such an iconic brand with endless potential, we therefore want to share opportunities so that we can get as many talented people as possible working on a project with such great capacity for exponential success. Anyone who wants to contribute in any way is welcome to do so."

In this regard, Montreal-based Indie Asylum group has just invested in the project. "The fact that experts with a deep understanding and appreciation of game creation committed to invest in our project speaks volumes about its business prospects," said Robert Young. This collaboration will let the organization seek out the best tools, resources and knowledge.

Both an investment fund and an accelerator/incubator for independent Quebec studios, Indie Asylum supports emerging studios so that they can go on to compete with the biggest names in the industry. The organization includes about 10 studios and 150 professionals from the video game sector (developers, event organizers, marketing specialists, virtual and augmented reality experts, etc.). Everyone contributes their strengths to serve the member studios.

As explained by Indie Asylum co-founder Pascal Nataf, the values underlying the missions of B Df'rent and Indie Asylum perfectly align with Chaplin's body of work, in which creativity, art and humor are used to build a better world. "For us, investing in B Df'rent was an obvious choice and an honor. Our mission is to bring to life, stories that can change the world." The specialist also believes that Chaplin's work is fundamental to the creative and cultural industries. "We are very proud to be associated with this project and to contribute to it," he says. "This initiative confirms that Montreal is now the Hollywood of video games. If Chaplin were alive, he would come create games in Montreal."

B Df'rent is forging ahead and already working on ideas and concepts. B Df'rent is planning a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for spring 2023.

SOURCE Indie Asylum

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