"Fury" is rolling into "World of Tanks."
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Before the World War II tank drama reaches theaters Oct. 17, video gamers can make like Brad Pitt's character, Sgt. Don "Wardaddy" Collier, and steer a virtual rendition of the tank he commands in the film. It's the latest example of a likeminded movie and game aligning to hype each other, and it marks the first Hollywood pact for the popular online tank combat title.
"It made sense," said Victor Kislyi, CEO of "World of Tanks" developer Wargaming. "Both audiences are interested in historical accuracy, so why don't we do something together? We didn't want to overdo it. We appreciate the opportunity, but our audience wants appropriateness. It's show business. You never know how it's going to turn out before the premiere."
The movie, set in 1945, follows a five-man crew as they carry out brutal missions behind enemy lines during the final days of the war. Beginning this week, "World of Tanks Blitz" players can purchase a "Fury"-themed bundle for $15 that adds the film's M4A3E8 Sherman tank — right down to the name Fury scrawled on the gun — to the mobile version of the game.
The nimble war machine, as well as a crew member resembling Pitt's "Wardaddy" and "Fury"-themed missions inspired by the film's battles between German and American forces, will also be deployed to the PC and Xbox 360 editions of "World of Tanks" for $30. While the game is free to play, upgraded tanks and resources cost extra for wannabe tankers.
The game, originally released in Russia in 2010, currently features about 110 million registered players around the world battling each other in 500 different types of tanks representing various nations. ("World of Tanks" boasts the Guinness World Record for the most players simultaneously on one server: 190,541 on a Russian server in 2013.)
Sony Pictures approached Wargaming about the "Fury" collaboration after filmmakers recruited some of the same tank experts that the Cyprus-based game studio enlists to ensure accuracy in "World of Tanks." ''Fury" director David Ayers was on hand at Wargaming's Electronic Entertainment Expo booth this summer to preview footage from the movie.
Such cross-promotional efforts in Hollywood have long been considered to be more beneficial for games than films, but in an era where the latest installments in game franchises like "Halo" and "Call of Duty" are promoted with marketing budgets larger than many film releases, the Belarus-born Kislyi doesn't see the alliance with "Fury" the same way.
"I believe that this movie could have a significant extra audience because of the millions and millions of 'World of Tanks' gamers," he said. "The movie is the movie. The game is the game. However, how can you not want to go and watch this movie if you play this game, if you are someone who is hooked on German and American tank combat? You'll have to see it."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.