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How Does 'Bandersnatch' Really End? Netflix's 'Black Mirror' Movie Works By Picking Your Own Finale

Breaking ground in a media genre that may draw streaming subscribers searching for a more exciting experience, Netflix offers a first-ever live-action interactive adventure with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch on Friday.

The choose-your-own-adventure original, which Netflix managed to keep under wraps for two years, encompasses innovative technology that allows the viewer to engage in the storyline as an active player, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Intriguingly, the stand-alone episode plays out differently for each viewer, so each person has a different experience, depending on the narrative.

The Emmy Award-winning “techno-paranoia series,” as The Hollywood Reporter refers to Black Mirror, is an anthology series that explores a twisted, high-tech world in which humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide, summarizes IMDB. It stars Daniel Lapiane as Dawson and Hannah John-Kamen as Selma Telse. Both actors play double roles in the series.

Carla Englebrecht, Netflix’s director of product innovation, said viewers’s heads will metaphorically explode while experience cutting-edge technology while interacting with a show about cutting-edge technology.

She encourages viewers to remain open-minded.

"People have never seen this before,” Engelbrecht told The Hollywood Reporter, “so they could come to it with preconceived notions, especially if they think this is a video game or a heavy definition of what interactive is. We think the enormous delight that will happen is powerful — as soon as folks find out that it's an interactive  Black Mirror  episode, their heads explode."

Show creator Charlie Brooker admitted that the two-year project was not technically easy.

“We knew it was going to be quite complicated,” said Brooker. “We didn’t know how complicated.

At first, he estimated the interactive project would equal the effort of about two regular Black Mirror episodes. In reality, he joked, it compares to about four times the work.

“I don’t think we would have done it if we’d known how complicated it was going to be,” said Brooker. The timing for the technology is right, after two years of refining the interactive approach.

Initially, Netflix vice president Todd Yellin pitched the idea in 2017 to Brooker and producing partner Annabel Jones.

In an effort to avoid merely a gimmicky approach, the project was delayed for a few years until the steamer’s interactive capability evolved. At first, Brooker imagined splicing an interactive, various endings trick into Playtest, a video game-themed horror episode from 2016.

Calling the project “daunting,” Brooker and his team eventually succumbed to the approach, provided it strengthens rather than hurts the storytelling.

Boasting a genre that is impossible to screen, then recap because of the various interactive endings, Engelbrecht shared the inside scoop with a few select entertainment journalists invited to screen  Bandersnatch at the Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, California.

After news had leaked in October that Netflix developed choose-your-own adventures within animated kids’s programs Puss in Book and Buddy Thunderstruck, among others, the company allowed employees to test the interactive Bandersnatch.

Netflix launched Puss in Book, its first interactive children’s program, in June 2017, as Variety reported.

“I have a 6-year-old daughter who talks to these shows all the time,” Engelbrecht told Variety at the time. But while shows like Dora the Explorer or Blue’s Clues encourage viewers to shout out answers, they don’t actually give kids a chance to interact. “It’s a faux two-way conversation,” she added.

Still, Netflix kept the made-for-adults Bandersnatch interactive ending project top-secret – until Friday. 

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