At the time of this writing, there may be a number of people out there enjoying Black Mirror: Bandersnatch … or re-enjoying it … or enjoying it in a way like never before. The choose-your-own-adventure movie launched on Friday after a marketing window of less than 24 hours. It was a strange way to push the show (especially with something that’s never been done before), but it also shows Netflix’s command on the entire entertainment industry and their ability to deliver content like no one else. They say watch and everyone drops what they are doing to watch… especially if that something is Black Mirror.
Over the past few years, we’ve become somewhat of a critic of the binge-watched model — we still don’t think it is an especially-ideal way in which to watch a show. You end up taking in so much content so fast that you can’t savor it; not only that, but you also miss out on the community aspect of watching / enjoying TV with your friends week in and out. There’s just something deeply satisfying that comes from watching an episode, discussing it for a week, and then coming back for more when you are bubbling over with anticipation for that next new episode!
What Netflix can do is deliver television experiences in a way that no one else has been able to figure out. That’s what made Black Mirror the perfect show for them even before Bandersnatch first was revealed. Because every single installment is so different, there’s less of a fear of them blending together. They also have enough staying power to be discussed and dissected by the hardcore fans keeping the show on everyone’s minds even when it hasn’t been on in months. Whether it is Making a Murderer, Stranger Things, or a standalone movie, Netflix thrives on finding a way to create must-watch content that can be seen as a whole rather than individual parts. It’s less about the episode and more about the collective.
Bandersnatch is an evolution of this — a movie that fundamentally cannot work on network TV and something that’s worthy of discussion just because every user’s experience is different. It’s not the first show or film to ever follow a choose-your-own-adventure format, but it’s the first major mainstream one for adults on this particular outlet. Over 300 minutes of footage was shot here to ensure that there were a wide array of different potential outcomes to the story. It’s a bold, fascinating way of filmmaking that tests not only the form but the morality of the user (we’ve seen a lot of people on social media feeling bad for what they are doing to the main character). This is exactly what the Black Mirror concept is all about – technology mixed with people making choices that seem to lead to bad outcomes… and now the viewer is in control to make those choices as it’s own story teller using technology.
The promotion for the movie was also genius. Netflix understands the rapid-fire nature of the entertainment industry and, beyond that, the power of the Black Mirror brand. The super-secret reveal of The OA didn’t work as successfully just because it was an original series and there wasn’t as much of a reason for viewers to care. With Black Mirror, there’s every reason. 24 hours was just enough time for the news to spread like wildfire and not so long that viewers with short attention spans would dilute the idea mentally and move on.
Regardless of whether or not Black Mirror: Bandersnatch delivers to every viewer out there, Netflix has already done their job — they’ve got your attention.
Have you already dived into Black Mirror: Bandersnatch? Be sure to share right now in the comments. (Photo: Netflix.)