The DVD release of The King of Kong features clips of Q and As from the film’s festival run. This includes footage shot in our Forrest Theater at T/F 2007 (beginning around 1:52) featuring Steve Wiebe, the film’s protagonist, and Steve Sanders, who played Billy Mitchell for the Donkey Kong title back in 1982.
As you can see, the two Steves received a series of questions about Billy, at the end of which Sanders replied, “Bill’s a great friend of mine and it’s a great movie. Just remember, it’s a movie.” Sanders implication seems to be that King‘s framing of Wiebe and Mitchell in the roles of hero and villain perhaps serves the film a bit more than it serves the truth.
Mitchell himself, despite claiming to have never seen the film, gave a hilarious, rambling, impromptu interview with the Onion AV Club in 2008 in which he asserts, amongst many other things, that a) the two men who entered Wiebe’s garage to examine his Donkey Kong machine phoned ahead and received permission and b) the scene depicting Billy’s snubbing of Steve at an arcade in Florida was subjected to deceptive editing. The interview was published alongside responses from Seth Gordon and Ed Cunningham, the film’s director and producer. They dispute Mitchell’s claims, but do say this when asked what they learned:
Ed Cunningham: It’s been an incredible lesson on how, when people have a vested interest, the truth is always going to be slanted toward their opinion. We’ve tried a couple of times to sit down and hash out everything we learned through this process factually, and it’s nearly impossible. If you want to have some very intense reading, go on some of the blogs and read any entry from [video-game referee and King Of Kong participant] Robert Mruczek and his claims on what happened and how. It’s so mind-boggling, the level of detail that people have gone to, to try to say what the truth is or isn’t. It’s really a fascinating study. There’s truth everywhere.
Seth Gordon: Yeah, the Rashomon of it. What’s fascinating is how high the stakes are for such a thing. They put so much effort into something that to most of us seems relatively inconsequential. What’s worth getting upset about, really?
Scorekeeper Walter Day has also challenged aspects of the film in a series of official statements on Twin Galaxies’ message board. We’ll leave it to you to decide what exactly is the truth.
In the years since the film’s release a new player, Hank Chien, has come on to the Donkey Kong scene and achieved an official recognized score of 1,110,100 points, surpassing both Wiebe and Mitchell. Here’s some video of Chien’s first million point game, including the infamous “Kill Screen” (around 7:30).