Netflix ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ Success Means More Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Fun Ahead
Netflix has chosen its next adventure: Interactive television.
After the success of last year’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch—a sci-fi film that allowed watchers to make decisions on behalf of the plot, leading to multiple unique storylines—the company has decided to added more interactive programming to its slate.
At an industry conference in Mumbai on Tuesday, Netflix VP of Product Todd Yellin said the streamer was “doubling down” on choose-your-own-adventure programming like Bandersnatch. “Expect over the next year or two to see more interactive storytelling,” Yellin said, according to Variety. “It won’t necessarily be science fiction, or it won’t necessarily be dark. It could be a wacky comedy. It could be a romance, where the audience gets to choose: ‘Should she go out with him, or him?'”
Interactive narratives have long been seen as a possible next-big-step for on-screen narratives, though early efforts have stalled out. In 1992, the Loews theater chain installed special joysticks in select theaters to highlight I’m Your Man, a comedy-thriller short-film that allowed moviegoers to determine the fate of the movie’s protagonist. A few years later, more than 40 locations screened Mr. Payback, an “interfilm” written and co-directed by Back to the Future screenwriter Bob Gale (Roger Ebert gave the movie a one-and-a-half-star review, describing it as “offensive and yokel-brained”).
The DVD era ushered in further experimentation, including a version of the 2006 film Final Destination 3 that gave viewers the option to change certain scenes.
None of those efforts, though, were as successful as Bandersnatch, which was greeted with warm reviews when it debuted on Netflix last December. Still, the experiment did yield one unexpected twist: Not long after it aired, some security experts expressed concerns about how Netflix would handle all of that decision-making data it snatched from viewers.