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‘Man on Wire’ Producer, Emmy-Winning Cousin Form New Company, Plan XBox Series

Series for Xbox has ”The Avengers“ writer Zak Penn on board to direct

Oscar-winning producer Simon Chinn (“Man on Wire,” “Searching for Sugarman”) has teamed with his Emmy-winning cousin Jonathan Chinn (“American High”) to form Lightbox, a new company that will produce non-fiction programming. Zak Penn has signed on to direct the first installment of a film series they are making for XBox.

Lightbox will be closely aligned with Simon Chinn’s existing company, Red Box films, the producer of last year’s Oscar winner for Best Documentary, “Searching for Sugarman.” The company will be headquartered in Los Angeles and London.

“Our careers have taken different paths, but we have always had a strongly shared sensibility and approach to non-fiction – mine at the more commercial end of feature documentary, Jonathan’s at the more thoughtful end of reality,” Simon Chinn, above left, said in a statement. “I am incredibly excited by the creative opportunities that exist to break new ground and find new audiences for our content. Being able to work with top industry talent is what will set us apart.”

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Jonathan Chinn, above right, has been a showrunner for series like “American High” and “30 Days.” Together, the two will develop projects for broadcast networks, cable channels and on-demand services like Netflix or Amazon.

Their first order of business will be producing an untitled series about the birth of the digital age for Xbox. Penn, writer of “The Incredible Hunk” and “X-Men: The Last Stand,” will direct the first film in the series, which will chronicle Atari’s decision to bury millions of unsold video game cartridges in a small town in New Mexico.

The series will be available exclusively on Xbox next year. Microsoft wants to turn the Xbox into the entertainment hub of the living room, and securing quality, exclusive programming is key to that endeavor.

“Our collaboration with Xbox offers an unparalleled opportunity to make a unique series of films around the extraordinary events and characters that have given rise to the digital age,” Simon Chinn said in a statement. “Our goal is to produce a series of compelling and entertaining docs which will deploy all the narrative techniques of Simon’s and my previous work.”