“Get soft… I’m talking Microsoft, baby.” That little gem was delivered by This is the End actor and comedian Craig Robinson, the emcee for Xbox Entertainment Studios’ NewFront on Monday in NYC. The hilarity continued as he graced the audience with a nonsensical song about “little boxes in your houses, little boxes filled with everything.” Robinson will be on little box himself, during the Bonnaroo music and arts Festival, at which he’ll be performing. The fest airs on Xbox June 12-15.
It was all about original programming at XBox’s display for advertisers. Steven Kim, vp, global accounts and agencies, Microsoft, said the company is creating a marriage between devices and the cloud. “Connecting with people so often comes down to storytelling,” he said, and a key part of that is interactive content. Every new piece of original content will attempt to interact with its audience.
Referencing her past with CBS chief Les Moonves, Nancy Tellem, pres, Xbox Entertainment Studios, said, “I know from experience that building something substantial isn’t easy.” It takes time, long-range planning and thinking. “We’re charged with making premium television experiences a reality,” and we have the resources, she said. XBox originals are “where TV wants to be.”
Highlights of the company’s original programing include an interactive short film “Possibilia,” which lets users choose the direction of the narrative over the course of a relationship break-up. It’s an amorphous genre of storytelling with the goal of making interactivity central to the narrative. Xbox is “hoping to enable the next generation to create an artform that’s personal and speaks directly to Millennials,” Tellem said.
Evp, XBox Ent Studios Jordan Levin announced a series of 6 interactive docs, from the producers of films “Searching for Sugarman” and “Man on Wire.” The series explores our continuous relationship with technology, and the first installment is “Atari: Game Over” (premiering 2014), which follows the mystery of the disappearance of Atari’s wildly unpopular E.T. game in 1983. Another original is “Every Street United,” an 8-ep unscripted series chronicling a global search for the best street soccer players, coached by legends Thierry Henry and Edgar Davids. Each show will follow the stories and communities of the grassroots stars, culminating in a final 4X4 street game in Rio de Janeiro during the World Cup in July.
Other series announced include the live-action “Halo,” based on the Halo franchise and directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, and “Humans,” an 8-episode English-language adaption of the Swedish series “Real Humans,” about a dystopian world where humans share their existence with robotic servants. Production begins in late summer.