Tell the Actors What to Do in Your Next Movie
2019-04-01 21:55:08

The Netflix experiment began with movie-watchers choosing a character’s morning cereal.(1)

Soon, Netflix may be letting viewers choose everything from the best on-screen romance to the safest path to escape a killer.(2)

The world’s largest online streaming service wants to try out more interactive entertainment, following great feedback from its recent groundbreaking episode of “Black Mirror.”(3)

The episode was called “Bandersnatch.” It let users make decisions at many important – and not-so-important – moments.(4)

The company is looking for ways to include choices in different kinds of movies, from comedy to horror to romance, said Todd Yellin.(5)

He is Netflix’s vice president of product.(6)

“Why can’t you have a romantic title where you get to choose who she goes out with?” Yellin said. “Or horror titles.(7)

Should you walk through that door, or should you dive out that window and get the heck out of there? You can make the choice.”(8)

In “Bandersnatch,” the first decision viewers could make was what the main character ate for breakfast.(9)

The idea was to give viewers a simple choice at first, so they could become familiar with the technology.(10)

A viewer uses a remote or pushes on the screen to make their choice.(11)

If the viewer does not choose, the movie just keeps playing.(12)

The breakfast scene became an Internet sensation when “Bandersnatch” came out last December.(13)

“Like many of you, I got addicted to ‘Bandersnatch’ and trying to figure out what’s the significance of the cereal, and not just the cereal, all the different options,” Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings said.(14)

After the cereal decision, viewers selected choices such as the kind of music a character would play or whether the character would jump off a building.(15)

Hastings said “Bandersnatch” gave Netflix programmers valuable information.(16)

They were able to better understand how long people want to participate with interactive programming, and how many choices they might want to make.(17)

When viewers can change what happens in a story, they feel deeply close to the character, Yellin said.(18)

That is why Yellin wants to try this way of moviemaking in other stories.(19)

“Horror is life and death situations constantly,” he said. And in romances, “the emotional stakes are high.”(20)

Yellin said the effort is still in the early part of development.(21)

Hastings said he does not predict that interactive entertainment will replace traditional storytelling.(22)

“I don’t know if I would do it every day,” Hastings said, “but as part of my viewing, it’s pretty exciting.”(23)

Netflix already has produced a few interactive shows for children. Yellin said young people have seemed to quickly like the idea.(24)

“Kids don’t have established rules,” he said. “They assume that’s the way the world should be and they’ll try it.”(25)

I’m Jill Robbins.(26)

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