Many streaming services including Netflix and HBO Max are experimenting with adding interactive films to their repertoire. Although many of these interactive films have a big impact on their release, they still seem relatively uncommon.
Will these new viewing experiences change our viewing habits or are they a novelty that will soon be forgotten? Read on to find out what we think their impact will be, and discover some of the best interactive films available.
What is an interactive movie?
Interactive viewing is a new way for people to consume media that allows the audience to have more engagement. Although the concept is still fairly new, there are a number of high profile interactive films that are already well known. These include Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and the Netflix interactive movie Kaleidoscope.
Interactive films usually allow the audience to make choices that impact the storyline, often changing the ending for the protagonist. Some interactive viewing also allows the viewer to answer questions about the film or choose the order they watch the show.
What will be the impact of interactive films on the future of cinema?
With so much new content being released, there is potential for interactive movies to appeal to viewers who are becoming bored. These unconventional viewing experiences have the potential to be much more engaging for certain audiences who are looking for something more. This may be especially relevant for children’s interactive films, as kids are less likely to be distracted by other obligations.
Despite this, interactive films are not likely to have a big impact on cinema as a whole. Although science fiction has shown us becoming more intertwined with technology in the future, this may not be the case. As we have seen with the limited success of virtual reality products, consumers often want a more passive experience.
While interactive movies are a great novelty and can be more interesting, they take much more effort to take part in. With many people juggling responsibilities as they watch TV, it’s unlikely interactive films will ever completely replace traditional cinema. While it is likely they will continue to increase in popularity, regular films will remain much more prevalent.
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The appeal of a more engaged audience
Interactive films may not become as widespread as traditional movies and are more expensive and difficult to make. But despite this, streaming services may be inclined to invest more in these experiences in the future.
Having an audience that is actively engaged in a show can mean much more lucrative advertising opportunities for sponsors. These films also allow streaming services to get data from their audiences from the way they interact with the story. This data, and the chance to tailor specific ads based on a viewer’s choices, could influence streaming services. We could see more interactive elements in future releases for this reason.
Best interactive movies to stream today
As far as interactive movies on Netflix go, Kaleidoscope is one of the most popular of recent times. The Netflix original series is a crime drama with a twist, allowing viewers to watch the show in any order. This impacts their opinion on the various characters as they progress through the plot.
Although this interactive Netflix movie may have gained popularity due to its unconventional nature, the plot and acting makes this a great show on its own.
Discover 7 shows like Kaleidoscope here
Erica is an interactive movie game that allows the player to make choices that direct the narrative. The game, released for PlayStation, is a psychological thriller and follows a protagonist who is battling nightmares from their childhood. Although released for the gaming market as opposed to a streaming service, the premise is very much the same. Its popularity shows the crossover appeal with people wanting to watch a film and those who want to play a game.
Black Mirror – Bandersnatch
The Black Mirror interactive movie Bandersnatch was a huge hit when it was released and is the most well known film in this list. Bandersnatch allows the viewer to make choices that will impact the plotline and what will happen to the lead character. Very self-referencing, the show’s protagonist is a programmer who suggests creating a game who’s player makes choices to progress the story. Bandersnatch includes the classic Black Mirror dark undertones and social commentary we’ve come to expect and love.
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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs the Reverend
The first comedy on the list, Kimmy vs the Reverend shows that interactive films can be adapted to any genre. Allowing the audience to make comedic choices makes the medium a tense experience, bringing fun to choosing the direction of the film. With many of these viewing experiences, the audience can rewatch the movie with different choices. This helps to give fans more of what they want.
One of the best shows on HBO Max, Mosaic is a murder mystery that was originally released as both an app and as a television drama. The app worked as an interactive film, allowing the user to choose which perspective they viewed the plot. There was also the option to conduct further ‘research’ and investigate documents, police reports and voicemails.
Unfortunately the iteration available on HBO contained much the same content as the app but without an interactivity element. Even more disappointing, the app has now been made unavailable. Despite this, creator Steven Soderbergh reportedly had two more interactive storytelling projects that were under development. This will be something for fans to keep a close lookout for.
Batman: Death in the Family
This Batman interactive movie shows again that there are ways for interactive films to be adapted to any genre. This movie allows the viewer to make choices that will affect the storyline of Batman and Robin fighting the Joker, and contains at least 9 alternate stories.
Despite having some violent themes, using a superhero in an interactive film shows how adaptable the premise is for different ages. There are even interactive movies for younger audiences, such as the Bratz interactive movie, Livin’ It Up with the Bratz.
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