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Steven Soderbergh’s new HBO show lets you go way deeper with murder mystery app

Charmaine Blake

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Steven Soderbergh’s Mosaic premieres Jan. 22 on HBO, but the entire story is already out there for public consumption. Mosaic was initially launched in November 2017 as an interactive storytelling app; Users choose a character and follow their journey to piece together the mysterious murder of Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone).

Soderbergh and writer Ed Solomon have worked on Mosaic for nearly four years. Soderbergh was invigorated to push current models of storytelling and to explore a show with a “branching narrative” (they detest the phrase “choose your own adventure”) for viewers to explore.

“I’ve never had two versions of the same thing out at the same time, it’s really interesting for me,” Solomon told Mashable. “To me they’re sort of like fraternal twins that were – they have the same genetic material and the same incubation, but they come out of the womb as entirely different humans…so they’re told as stories they’re told in entirely different ways.”

The HBO version is not a recut of footage from the app, but actually a full shot-by-shot rebuild. Solomon suggests watching that first for wary viewers, but to explore Mosaic further in app form.

 

“If you’re a story geek like I am or really interested in exploring just how malleable events can be when you’re reframing them and telling a story about those events, both could be interesting,” Solomon said. Just don’t jump between the app and the show. “They’re structured so differently that they don’t – they’re not additive in that way. It will actually detract from your experience if you go back and forth.”

Solomon has made a career of complicating traditional storytelling. As a screenwriter, he was behind genre-bending projects like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Men in Black 

“Every time I’ve tried to follow rules I think I’ve ended up disappointing myself,” Solomon said. “This required a tremendous amount of pushing and effort because … you had to have all these stories that not only worked as individual stories, but also intertwine so that they made sense from all these different angles. Putting myself through that and coming out the other side of it now has changed the way I write forever, in a positive way.”

Even so, writing something as sprawling as Mosaic, which pushed the creators to contemplate every viewpoint in a given scene or plot line, was a daunting exercise. Solomon likened it to jumping off a cliff – or sinking a game-winning free throw under immense pressure with distractions everywhere. He and Soderbergh only completed their series outline in the summer of 2015, so Solomon found himself writing almost 300 pages in three months. They added another 100 pages after filming started in November, and 150 more during a hiatus between shoots. 

“While it was definitely challenging, there was also something very freeing about the way HBO gave Steven and me complete trust, and the way Steven really encouraged me to dig deep and let myself really do my work,” Solomon said. “That was somewhat life-changing for me, especially having been toiling in the screenwriting trenches where what you write gets vetted by a literal committee of people, not all of whom have your same creative interests at heart. And Steven did.”

‘Mosaic’ writer Ed Solomon in front of the sprawling storyboard for his ‘branching narrative’ app.

Image: claudette barius/hbo

Solomon is already working on at least two more projects like this and is excited to explore the narrative form further.

“Now that my brain is really thinking in this form, I find it a lot easier to come up with ideas that work for this form from square one,” he said. “I find it fascinating as a story geek, as somebody who’s really interested in how stories are created and told, to have gone through the process of having created five or six or seven different characters points of view, mini individual movies almost for each character, and then having to re-break it again as a story to be told in amore objective sense.”

As a six-episode miniseries, Mosaic works in its linear form and makes a compelling case for exploring its story further on mobile devices.

“To me, the real joys of the app version of it get deeper and more rewarding the further into it you get,” Solomon said. “And in fact, you really need to see several of the lines to fully appreciate the nuance and also the full tapestry – or I guess, for lack of a better word, the full mosaic.”

Though the project has been long and taxing, Solomon said it was easily one of the most fulfilling of his entire three-decade career. He normally hesitates to see his projects become realized and released into the wild, but this one is different.

“No matter what happens with Mosaic, no matter where it lands culturally, if it even lands … I had three of the most amazing creative years of my life and I will always be grateful for that,” he said.

Mosaic premieres tonight on HBO.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/22/mosaic-hbo-steven-soderbergh-ed-solomon/

New Movie Tech

Roku on track for $1 billion in revenue in 2019

Charmaine Blake

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“Roku plans to be a billion-dollar company in 2019, the company said on Thursday as part of its announcement of strong earnings. The company beat analyst estimates and reported strong growth in active users and streaming hours with earnings of $0.05 per share, compared with the $0.03 analysts had estimated, and revenues of $276 million, compared with the expected $262 million.

Roku also reported 40 percent year-over-year active user growth, with 27.1 million active users by year-end, and a 69 percent year-over-year increase in streaming hours, which reached 7.3 billion.

The company said it plans this year to invest in international expansion, its ad-supported service The Roku Channel, advertising and its Roku TV platform.

While cord cutting is driving some of Roku’s growth, only around half of Roku’s customers fit this description, CEO Anthony Wood pointed out. The other half are more like “cord shavers” — those who are still pay TV subscribers, but are shifting more of their TV viewing to streaming services.

Roku’s ability to also attract pay TV customers combined with the fact that one in four smart TVs sold in the U.S. now runs its software is helping the company’s market share grow.

Roku estimates that one in five U.S. TV households now uses the Roku platform for at least a portion of their TV viewing. In the year ahead, Roku aims to better capitalize on its traction by increasing the monetization per user and scaling the number of households using Roku………………………………………………………….”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/22/roku-on-track-for-1-billion-in-revenue-in-2019/

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Netflix has the best movie selection, study shows

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“If you can only afford one streaming service, maybe this study will help you decide.

Based on the Rotten Tomato scores of all movies available on each of the big streaming services, it looks like Netflix has the best selection of movies, according to a study from Streaming Observer.

Compared to Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO Now, Netflix has the most movies that are “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, which means they have a steady score of 75% or higher and have been reviewed by a significant amount of critics and Rotten Tomatoes users. Of Netflix’s 3,839 movies, more than 15% are certified fresh.

Hulu has the closest number of movies at 2,336 but only 9.6% are certified fresh. HBO Now with 815 movies is sitting at 4.7% certified fresh. Amazon Prime has the most options at 17,461 but quantity does not equal quality for the online retail giant because only 1.3% of its movies are certified fresh.

All this basically comes down to the fact that Netflix has more higher quality movies than anyone else — 596, to be exact, which is roughly 360 more than both Hulu and Amazon Prime.

The data used by Streaming Observer is from Jan. 20, so it’s always possible that this could change. Movies are coming and going from streaming services all the time, and when new streaming services like Disney’s anticipated service come along, it’ll be quite a disruption for these sites.

Plus, this is all subjective and doesn’t take television shows into account. It’s really all about what you’re interested in watching. Not everyone wants to watch the best movies all the time. Sometimes you just want to watch King of the Hill, and you can only get that on Hulu.”

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/netflix-best-movies/

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Hulu drops price after Netflix raises rates

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Hulu isn’t done taunting Netflix just yet.

Image: Chesnot/Getty Images

Just as Netflix’s prices go up, Hulu’s are going down.

“Hulu has announced today that its reducing the price of its ad-supported subscription plan to $5.99 per month. The current price for Hulu’s lowest-tiered plan is $7.99 per month.. The company’s “no ads” plan will remain priced at $11.99 per month.

This move comes just a week after the streaming service’s biggest competitor, Netflix, unveiled its largest price increase ever. The price of Netflix’s most popular plan is now $13 per month.

However, the move to undercut Netflix’s prices isn’t the first time Hulu’s taken a swipe at its competitor this month. Last week, amid Netflix’s big promotion for the upcoming release of its anticipated Fyre Festival documentary, Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, Hulu dropped a surprise. It released its own Fyre Festival documentary, Fyre Fraud, before Netflix’s film.

In its pricing announcement, Hulu also unveiled a price increase for its Hulu + Live TV plan. That plan will be going from $39.99 to $44.99 per month.

Hulu Live TV brings channels like……………………………………………………………………”

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/hulu-price-drop-599/

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