There’s Going to Be a Choose Your Own Adventure Movie That Will Let You Actually Choose
Twentieth Century Fox has a Choose Your Own Adventure movie in development. That’s not surprising — in a world that’s seen a Battleship licensed movie, every fond memory of our childhood is suitable for brand extension, and this one is better-known than many. What did surprise me is the announcement that they will be using CtrlMovie technology to allow the audience to decide how the movie will go using an app.
Viewers vote to decide what characters will do at pivotal points in the narrative. That means the same film will have a different plot, ending, and even running time depending on the audience’s unanimous choices. And unlike previous attempts at interactive filmmaking, it all happens seamlessly, with no break in the onscreen action.
That’s one way to get viewers to go to the theater — you won’t get a vote when you stay home and watch it (although weren’t Blu-rays promoted as having similar kinds of abilities?). The book series is said to have sold over 265 million copies worldwide; that’s a lot of potential viewers. But isn’t encouraging people to use their phones at the movies a bad idea? The Hollywood Reporter isn’t a fan of the concept (but Hollywood has never liked new technology much):
Unfortunately, even a cursory glance at the CtrlMovie technology from Kino suggests another major disruption to the movie-theater experience in the worst way possible…. this is another case of introducing, instead of removing, distractions from the experience of paying to see a movie on the big screen. With ticket sales down, it makes sense that theater exhibitors want to try new things to lure audiences away from their home-theater setups. But encouraging the use of a smartphone app — that’s how you would choose where the adventure takes you, multiple times in the film .. is a baffling and alienating choice.
… This technological choice, however, feels like an extension of how people interact with their TVs — scanning Twitter or Facebook, then going back to watch whatever show is on, and on and on — as opposed to paying 15 bucks per ticket at the multiplex and actually watching the movie they paid for.
It does sound like turning a movie into a big-screen video game. They’ve already put out a feature film with this tech, Late Shift, and one viewer reported, “During my screening, tense scenes dissolved amid audience laughter as everyone voted for the most troll-ish options available.” That is also a risk, people just trying to kill off the protagonist (always a risk in the original books) or cause trouble.
Producers for the movie include Shannon Gilligan of Chooseco, the publisher of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” brand; John Davis and John Fox of Davis Entertainment (who are working on remaking Predator); and superhero TV show mogul Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter.