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Steven Spielberg is about to venture into the mobile streaming world with a horror story you can only watch after dark.
Spielberg is the latest in a line of filmmakers that already includes Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, Sam Raimi, and Doug Liman, to agree to create new content for Quibi, an upcoming mobile streaming platform that will be launched next year by Jeffrey Katzenberg (who co-founded DreamWorks with Spielberg in 1994) and Meg Whitman (former CEO of Hewlett-Packard). Katzenberg made the announcement Sunday at the Banff World Media Festival, and emphasized that Spielberg is actually taking the rare step of writing the horror series himself.
"Steven Spielberg came in, and said, ‘I have a super scary story I want to do,'” Katzenberg said, as reported by Variety. “He’s writing it himself. He hasn’t [written anything in a while] so getting him to write something is fantastic.”
Quibi, short for "quick bites," is a new mobile streaming service meant to capitalize on the way we use our phones now to tell serialized story in short bursts, or "chapters." Katzenberg has compared the storytelling style to the way novelist Dan Brown structures his novels into short, fast-paced chapters to maximize a reading experience even if you have little time to read.
While serialized storytelling itself is nothing new, Katzenberg hopes that the platform will create a "third generation" of filmed storytelling by capitalizing on the mobile experience.
“What Quibi is doing, it’s not really short form,” he said. “We’re putting those sciences together. Chapters or act breaks that are 7 to 10 minutes long. They are specifically shot to be watched on the go. If you’re 25-35 years old, you get up and you’re on [a smartphone] for over five hours.”
To that end, Spielberg's story, which is moving forward under the working title "Spielberg's After Dark," will come with a special added feature: You will only be able to watch episodes of the series when your phone knows it's dark outside. This storytelling stipulation is being developed for Quibi at Spielberg's request, and will take the form of a countdown clock that will let you know how long you have until sundown, at which time the "After Dark" chapters will become available to view. When the sun rises, the chapters vanish again until the next sunset.
Quibi will launch in April 2020 with two pricing tiers: $4.99 a month with short ads before each chapter and $7.99 a month for an ad-free experience, with a two-week trial period available at launch to people who want to try it out. Eight "super premium" stories will be available to watch upon launch, and 26 more "lighthouse" projects will roll out every other Monday in the first year of operation. Between those serialized projects, unscripted program, and a short daily news show, Quibi will generate 7,000 pieces of content in its first year.
"After Dark" is the latest in a long line of exciting upcoming projects for the always-busy Spielberg. He's shooting his remake of West Side Story this year for a Christmas 2020 release, and then next year he'll be returning to the Indiana Jones franchise for a fifth installment starring Harrison Ford, which is set to be released in 2021. He's also already announced a collaboration with another upcoming streaming platform: A reboot of his Amazing Stories anthology series for Apple TV Plus.