Netflix approached the creators of “Black Mirror” back in 2017 with an unique idea.
The streaming service first started to experiment with interactive kids content. The concept was designed to give its younger viewers a chance to experience their own story. This was done through multiple-choice questions and could easily be answered using the remote. What made this interesting is the fact that it was done on a real-time basis.
It worked, and it seems Netflix is hoping to now bring this concept to adults.
The streaming service is starting off the experience with “Black Mirror” and honestly, there’s no surprise there. The show is known for it’s take on technology and paranoia, so giving viewers control seems right up their alley.
At first, the film creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones were having none of it. But after carefully considering the options, they decided to get on board. Jones, in particular, said during an interview that she agreed to the Netflix’s concept simply because early creations of interactive storytelling had been so poorly made. This was a chance for Netflix to change her perception about this.
After deliberating with Netflix about how the whole concept would be approached, “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” was born.
This is the first ever interactive movie for adults in the streaming platform. The movie debuted on Friday and so far the response has been quite good.
The film is set in 1984. It features the story of a geeky teenager called Stefan. Stefan is trying to turn a multiple choice science fiction movie into a pioneering computer game.
The interactive storytelling has already seen some success in the streaming service when it comes to kids. “Puss in Boots: Trapped in an Epic Tale” and “Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile” have been quite a hit with kids. Netflix’s director of product innovation Carla Engelbrecht says that the success of these shows was a light bulb moment for the company and they soon realized they were on to something here. Besides, Netflix is well positioned to offer a more interactive experience compared to traditional TVs which have been linear in nature.
However, the challenge is simple. Younger viewers are not complicated and even simple choices when it comes to interactive content are quite exciting. Adults, on the other hand, are complex and they will need more complex stories and interactions.
The great thing is that Netflix looks ready for the logistical challenge that these varying scripts may pose. The streaming service has already built a scripting tool called Branch Manager designed to ease interactive TV for the adults.
“Bandersnatch” will come with five possible endings. If a viewer chooses the quickest path, they will be at the end of the story in 40 minutes. On average though, the movie takes about 90 minutes. Netflix says that there are many unique permutations of the story. But there are also other simple iterations that won’t really change the script like helping Stefan choose his cereal. The streaming service also says that it has managed to build the tech needed to make these multiple storylines possible.