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‘Bandersnatch’ will be the first of many choose-your-own-adventures on Netflix

Published Jan 18th, 2019 8:08PM EST
Netflix Chose-Your-Own Adventure
Image: Etienne Laurent/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

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Netflix debuted something special last month: An interactive movie where you make choices for the main character. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is the name of the choose-your-own adventure film — an adventure that’s just crazy enough to warrant inclusion in the Black Mirror universe. The streaming service confirmed that Bandersnatch is going to be the first of various pieces of interactive content in the coming years.

“You should anticipate we’ll do more of those [interactive shows] as we start to explore that format,” Netflix chief product officer Greg Peters said during the company’s earnings report on Thursday, Business Insider reports. It’s unclear, however, when and what shows will allow viewers to decide what will happen next.

In Bandersnatch, your choices are limited, and you can’t help but feel that you aren’t really changing the ending of the movie. However, the film still represents a notable technical achievement. Everything happens without a glitch. You have limited time to make your choice, but the video is never interrupted and the transition to the desired section of the film is seamless. Also, you can’t really cheat and go back in time. There’s no rewinding support here, although you can restart the adventure from the beginning.

The choices aren’t exactly “countless,” as Netflix’s Ted Sarandos said, but watching this special Black Mirror adventure is fun enough. The creators did shoot over five hours of video for a movie that ends at around 90 minutes.

But future creations may have more to offer. Sarandos did say that the show “has got storytellers salivating about the possibilities,” adding that Netflix has “a hunch” that interactive content works across all kinds of storytelling. Apparently, “some of the greatest storytellers in the world are excited to dig into it.”

Interactive content, from a company that just said that Fortnite might be a bigger rival to Netflix than HBO, might just help Netflix keep consumers engaged with the service for longer stretches of time.

Netflix also created a Branch Manager system that makes the process of producing interactive content more manageable. Netflix could end up offering Branch Manager as a paid service to content creators. “In that challenge [of creating interactive shows] is an opportunity,” Peters said. “It’s an opportunity to bring technology to bear to create a tool set for creators to make that process easier and more effective.”

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.