• Nolan Schmidt

FILM CORNER - Interactive Movies: You Decide What Happens



A couple of weeks ago, I got my hands on a Blu-Ray copy of Batman: Death in the Family. This particular film was promoted as an "interactive movie" under Warner Bros. and DC Comics' DC Showcase Animated Shorts. The movie itself is based off of the famous 1988 Batman comic, The Death in the Family (where Batman's second Robin, Jason Todd, is killed by the Joker), which a part of that story was adapted into the DC Universe Animated film, Batman: Under the Red Hood.


What caught my interest in this particular title was Warner Bros. and DC Comics finding a way to let viewers experience the choice of what happens in the Death in the Family story line. When the original comic was released, readers were given the choice with two toll-free numbers on whether to let Jason Todd be killed by the Joker or survive. With this title, Warner Bros. and DC Comics created a sort of "recut" of their previous Under the Red Hood adaptation, and gave viewers the option to choose at certain moments in the film on what would happen.


Now, interactive media is nothing new as there are video games (such as Japanese Visual Novels and even titles by Telltale like The Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us) that contain interactive elements, and the choices made in said games effect further dialogue as the story goes on. Even now in the age of streaming, Netflix has even embraced interactive titles such as Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal, and Captain Underpants: Epic Choice-o-rama. This goes beyond the question of "Is this a sign of a new medium to embrace?"



The answer is very tricky to make. As I said, interactive media is not new as most interactive media is mostly seen in video games. The first interactive movie was a 1967 Czech film entitled Kinoautomat (or One Man and his House when it was given a screening at Expo 67 in Canada) where the movie would stop at nine different parts and the audience was given two options to vote for before the next segment would be played. It is definitely possible to create more within this medium, but from what I could see from a production standpoint, the creation of such a project would be based using the same type of script that the folks of Telltale had to write for their games. Another issue is that how long would people be interested in this type of medium.


If anyone remembers the grand resurgence of 3D movies years ago, it lasted for a little over a decade, and we even saw the production of 3DTVs. However, it seems that 3D has died down as there hasn't been any films in 3D being promoted (even before the pandemic hit).


Honestly, I see both pros and cons to the aspect of interactive movies. The concept is pretty cool (as well as seeing multiple outcomes based on my decisions watching Batman: Death of the Family was intriguing), but will it be something that will stay or will it come and go like 3D movies did during the last decade. The decision is up to the filmmakers wanting to embrace such an idea, and those who are willing to watch said medium.