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A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure movie is coming, and audiences can vote on its outcome

Mobile app CtrlMovie will run the interactive feature

Cover of ‘The Lost Jewels of Nabooti’ (1981) by the late R.A. Montgomery, who wrote more than 50 titles in the Choose Your Own Adventure series.
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Choose Your Own Adventure, the staple of grade-school book fairs in the 1980s and 1990s, is getting a film adaptation that will allow the audience to determine the story’s outcome using a smartphone app.

21st Century Fox announced the concept at CinemaCon yesterday. It’s going to use an app called CtrlMovie, which debuted two years ago in a film called Late Shift. Late Shift touted seven different endings available to the audience. This 10-minute video below shows how it works:

The Wrap said that Fox’s demonstration evoked “Telltale [Games’] story-based, quick-decision video games.” The film is currently in development, and Chooseco, the publisher of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, is on board as a production partner.

There’s a ton of nostalgia for the Choose Your Own Adventure series, but no word yet of what the story of the film is or who might star in it. CYOA books had numerous themes, typically in science fiction or adventure (sometimes suspense or horror), and it’s hard to pin down what would be the definitive work of the series. More than 180 were published under the original run spanning 1979 to 1998.

The books were also enjoyable because some kids would try to unwind the optimal ending — except for Inside UFO 54-40, whose ending had no preceding instructions to turn to that page (it was only found by cheating). Others could deliver really short and unfortunate outcomes. Lacking that threat, a movie adaptation is going to be a greatly different thing.

There’s also a good question as to how this movie is going to work in a home setting, as part of the appeal seems to be voting with a crowd of others. I’m not shut off to the idea or the obvious reach for Gen X’s nostalgia, but CYOA books worked because, at bottom, they had good stories — at least ones that excited the adolescent imagination.