Hollywood director and producer Steven Soderbergh has joined with HBO in an effort to upend how you watch TV.
They debuted an app called Mosaic on Wednesday that lets users to choose different storylines for a seven-and-a-half hour murder-mystery miniseries starring Sharon Stone.
Viewer choices don’t change the series’ outcome. Nor do viewers miss key plot points. Rather it’s a way for viewers to “go down a rabbit hole if you want,” Soderbergh said, with discoveries, documents or other items related to the mystery, without it becoming a “chose your own adventure.”
The app’s name plays on it format and function: It’s a patchwork of tiles that fill in a broader picture as you click.
Mosaic’s storytelling app prototype was shown over three years ago to an enthusiastic Richard Plepler, the CEO of HBO. “When he saw the prototype, he literally stood in front of the door and said, ‘You’re not walking out of this office until we have a deal,'” Soderbergh recalled to Wired.
Ultimately, HBO chipped in $20 million for the project, and a standard shot-for-television version of the mini-series will appear on HBO in January 2018. More series are in the works from Soderbergh for Mosaic, and the Academy Award-winning director will open up the platform for other filmmakers.
“I looked at this as sort of an open source format that other filmmakers can come in and push,” he told TechCrunch.
Casey Silver, former head of Universal Pictures and co-creator of PodOp, which developed the app, echoes this sentiment, saying that the app is just the beginning.
“I ran a movie studio, so I understand what that thing is,” Silver told Wired. “I think we want to pursue the outer edge of how good it can be and how good we can make it.”
Mosaic is available for iOS devices and Apple TV.