If there’s one thing that a quick look at the current state of television and movies will tell you, it’s that there’s not much need for original ideas when there’s so much out there ready and waiting to be adapted, updated or just outright ripped off. That’s why we’ve decided to help in that process with a series which offers up some of the things we’d like to see being brought to big screen or small. This week’s suggestion? Choose Your Own Adventure.
What Is It?
A series of children’s books published between 1979 and 1998 that were written in a modular form, allowing the reader to make narrative choices that would change the direction of the story, allowing them to control the action to a certain extent. If you’re of a certain age, then there’s almost no way that you haven’t read at least one of these books; the series – there were well over 200 titles published, with sub-series including “Choose Your Own Super Adventure,” “Choose Your Own Nightmare” and branded versions for Disney, Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises – sold more than 250 million titles throughout its lifespan, and has since been reissued (with all new artwork, revised text and in some cases, new titles) for a new audience. Also, if you really haven’t ever read one of these books, you should track them down: They’re kind of great.
What Could It Be?
One of my favorite movies of all time is Clue – Those who’ve seen it know exactly why – and one of my favorite things about Clue is the multiple endings. The idea was that, in theaters, they could be switched out between performances, so that you could literally see a different movie if you went back and caught another screening, without expecting it. On video releases, all of the endings appeared, one after another, but on DVD you can choose the end that you want. I think you see where I’m going here.
With the technology that’s available for viewing content at home, now, there is only the lack of desire on the part of producers that is keeping us from Choose Your Own Adventure movies. It is, admittedly, a curiously old-fashioned idea in this age of photorealistic video games that are far more interactive and playable, but that’s half the charm for me: The idea of something that doesn’t ask you to carry a massive amount of narrative weight, but is essentially a traditional movie that’ll pause at the big important moments and finally listen to you when you complain that the lead character has just made completely the wrong choice, and should’ve done the opposite.
It’s very much a gimmick, and not a sustainable one at all. But with the right mix of self-awareness (the stakes should be high enough to make the choices meaningful, for example) and self-parody (as all gimmicky movies should have), big-names and smart direction, it could be a remarkably fun movie. Get Steven Soderbergh to direct – Like the gimmick alone wouldn’t be enough to grab his attention – and give him his pick of collaborators, and release the whole thing as a DVD or BluRay original, just to see what would happen. How great could it be?