Netflix faces $25 million lawsuit over ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’

If you watched Netflix’s latest ‘Black Mirror’ production, there’s no doubt it reminded you of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. Now, the publisher that owns the trademark to “Choose Your Own Adventure,” Chooseco, LLC, is suing Netflix. The publisher is alleging trademark infringement, The Hollywood Reporter first reported. In the complaint, Chooseco says Netflix […]

If you watched Netflix’s latest ‘Black Mirror’ production, there’s no doubt it reminded you of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. Now, the publisher that owns the trademark to “Choose Your Own Adventure,” Chooseco, LLC, is suing Netflix. The publisher is alleging trademark infringement, The Hollywood Reporter first reported.

In the complaint, Chooseco says Netflix “used the mark willfully and intentionally to capitalize on viewers’ nostalgia for the original book series from the 1980s and 1990s. The film’s dark and, at times, disturbing content dilutes the goodwill for and positive associations with Chooseco’s mark and tarnishes its products.”

In one scene, the main character explains to his dad that his video game, ‘Bandersnatch,’ is based on the fictional “Choose Your Own Adventure” book.

20th Century Fox, according to Chooseco, has an options contract to develop a series based on the publisher’s books. Netflix, on the other hand, pursued a license beginning in 2016 but did not receive one, the suit says. Chooseco alleges it also sent Netflix a cease-and-desist letter before the release of ‘Bandersnatch.’

Chooseco is seeking at least $25 million or Netflix’s profits from the film, whichever amount is the greatest, for Netflix’s alleged trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition and trademark dilution.

Netflix declined to comment for this story.

Netflix gives a behind-the-scenes look at the making of ‘Bandersnatch’ in a new video

Netflix is giving viewers a look behind the scenes at the making of its first interactive story aimed at adults, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. In a featurette published today, the streaming service highlights the efforts that went into making this “choose-your-own-adventure”-style film, which tells the story of a young programmer who begins to question reality while […]

Netflix is giving viewers a look behind the scenes at the making of its first interactive story aimed at adults, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. In a featurette published today, the streaming service highlights the efforts that went into making this “choose-your-own-adventure”-style film, which tells the story of a young programmer who begins to question reality while adapting a dark fantasy novel into a video game.

In the video, VP of Product at Netflix Todd Yellin, talks about Netflix’s venture into this new type of storytelling.

“Part of the excitement of working at Netflix is constantly inventing what is internet TV. There’s a lot of responsibility, because we are innovating on this whole new form,” he says. 

Yellin says Netflix began experimenting with interactive TV by way of kids specials launched last year, before branching out to adult content.

But Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker admits he was hesitant to get involved when first approached.

“Netflix asked us if we’d be interested in doing an interactive story ever. My initial thought was ‘no, I don’t want to do that,'” he says. But Brooker says he later had an idea that would fit the format and changed his mind.

However, the process was a lot more challenging that he originally thought, he also notes.

“Well, this will be fairly straightforward,” Brooker had thought to himself. “I’m sure I’ll have to draw a flowchart at one point. Cut to several months later, it kind of exponentially started to balloon,” he says.

As one choice could lead to another series of events, and then another could alter that course again, the number of potential combinations grew.

While there are only five possible endings, the film has over a trillion unique permutations of the story, Variety reported.

In the featurette, the various staff who worked on the project also detailed how hard it was to produce the interactive film, from the script supervisors to the video editors and beyond.

The time and amount of work that were clearly involved in making Bandersnatch seem to indicative that interactive TV won’t become commonplace – it will likely be reserved for specials, due to the increased costs.

In the end, it’s not clear how well the project paid off for Netflix. The film itself was certainly an interesting experiment, but the experience also became tiresome and some reviewers felt the tale being didn’t measure up to other Black Mirror episodes.

You can view the new behind-the-scenes featurette here on YouTube.

 

 

Original Content podcast: ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ is a frustrating interactive experiment

“Bandersnatch” offers an unusual television experience — but not a very satisfying one. The new “Black Mirror” special follows Stefan Butler as he attempts to turn a science fiction novel (also called “Bandersnatch”) into a Choose Your Own Adventure-style video game. As the story progresses, Stefan gets pulled deeper into the mystery of what happened […]

“Bandersnatch” offers an unusual television experience — but not a very satisfying one.

The new “Black Mirror” special follows Stefan Butler as he attempts to turn a science fiction novel (also called “Bandersnatch”) into a Choose Your Own Adventure-style video game. As the story progresses, Stefan gets pulled deeper into the mystery of what happened to “Bandersnatch” author Jerome F. Davies, a mystery that eventually involves parallel universes, government conspiracies and Stefan’s own family tragedy.

Netflix has experimented with interactive content before, though previously aimed at kids — for example with an adaptation of “Minecraft: Story Mode” from Telltale Games. The format, where the viewer is periodically given a limited time to choose Stefan’s next action, should also feel familiar to players of Telltale titles like “The Walking Dead” and “Batman: The Telltale Series.”

The big difference, however, is that most other games want you to feel that your choices are meaningful. “Bandersnatch” flips the formula on its head, ripping away the illusion of free will and consequence and instead exploring a scenario where your choices can often feel reversible or otherwise meaningless.

On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we’re joined by Kirsten Korosec to review the show. Our reactions ranged from outright hatred to tentative admiration for the creators’ ambition — but even when we found “Bandersnatch” to be at least conceptually interesting, the experience itself became tiresome by the end.

We also review “Bird Box,” the new Netflix thriller starring Sandra Bullock as a woman navigating a world overrun by monsters who cannot be seen — because if you see them, you’ll immediately kill yourself. According to Netflix, “Bird Box” set a record among the streaming service’s original films for most viewers in its first week.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You also can send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

Here’s how to play a game from Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch episode

If you’ve gone down the rabbit hole with Netflix’s latest Black Mirror release, there’s (at least) one more easter egg out there. As some intrepid Reddit users discovered, you can actually visit two different versions of fictional software company Tuckersoft’s website and… spoilers ahead. On the regular Tuckersoft site, discovered through a QR code embedded […]

If you’ve gone down the rabbit hole with Netflix’s latest Black Mirror release, there’s (at least) one more easter egg out there. As some intrepid Reddit users discovered, you can actually visit two different versions of fictional software company Tuckersoft’s website and… spoilers ahead.

On the regular Tuckersoft site, discovered through a QR code embedded in the show itself, Tuckersoft advertises its game lineup including Bandersnatch, a “revolutionary game from Stefan Butler.” In this timeline, Tuckersoft released both Nohzdyve and Bandersnatch and Stefan eventually eclipsed his gaming idol Colin’s own fame, driving the company forward. As the site notes:

“While Colin Ritman was Tuckersoft’s leading man, it was Stefan Butler’s 1984 release, Bandersnatch, that catapulted the company to new heights. The innovative narrative and gameplay transformed interactive entertainment forever.”

If you visit the Tuckersoft site but strip out the www., the company never released Colin’s game due to a tragic incident. If you’ve seen the episode, you can probably guess what that was. This version of the site includes the following text:

“A bleak turn of events would lead to the abrupt cancellation of Colin Ritman’s highly-anticipated game, Nohzdyve, and the end of Stefan Butler’s promising career.

“Metl Hedd remains a classic, but the world will have to wonder what Nohzdyve was like. Rumour has it, an early version of the game is somewhere out there, waiting to be played for the first time.”

Black Mirror fans will note that the fictionalized site for Colin’s other major title, Metl Hedd, depicts the BigDog-like robots that terrorized humans in season four’s particularly harrowing episode “Metalhead.” Tuckersoft’s other games contain plenty of references to Black Mirror episodes too.

In the timeline in which Colin was able to finish Nohzdyve, the game’s sub-page has a download link for a file called nohzdyve.tap and the instructions to “Play Nohzdyve on your ZX Spectrum emulator.” Apparently, the file works and if you run Windows and you’re willing to install an emulator (like Speccy) for the obscure British 8-bit console, you can actually play Colin’s rather prescient release. We’re told it might work on a Commodore 64 emulator too, but haven’t tested that out (yet).

So far it doesn’t look like Bandersnatch is playable anywhere, but given that the episode itself is a game and the game itself results in certain horror, that’s probably for the best.

Netflix releases a trailer for ‘Bandersnatch,’ the mysterious new episode of ‘Black Mirror’

What the heck is “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”? It’s probably not just a regular episode of the critically acclaimed science fiction anthology series. Netflix has been pretty cryptic about it, only announcing its existence last week, ahead of a December 28 release. Given the reported 5 hour, 12 minute runtime, “Bandersnatch” may be the choose-your-own-adventure episode […]

What the heck is “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”?

It’s probably not just a regular episode of the critically acclaimed science fiction anthology series. Netflix has been pretty cryptic about it, only announcing its existence last week, ahead of a December 28 release.

Given the reported 5 hour, 12 minute runtime, “Bandersnatch” may be the choose-your-own-adventure episode that we know was in the works — in that case, it wouldn’t actually take that hours and hours to watch, but instead would incorporate multiple paths totaling five hours of footage.

Today, Netflix released a trailer for what it’s describing as “a Black Mirror event.” The story takes place in 1984 and focuses on a programmer (Fionn Whitehead) adapting a fantasy novel into a computer game.

The trailer doesn’t quite come out and say that this will be an interactive episode, but the subject matter and the tagline (“change your mind — change your life — change your past — your present — your future”) seem to be awfully suggestive.

And we won’t have to wait much longer to find out: Netflix says “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” goes live tomorrow.