Robert Rodriguez, Ed Helms, Dave Bautista and ‘John Wick’ creator Derek Kolstad also have new VR projects for the company.
Virtual reality is stepping further into a more mainstream storytelling arena. Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire — the brainchild that came from Lucasfilm’s partnership with The Void — is the most recent high-profile blockbuster-based VR experience. On the less commercial side, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s art installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Carne y Arena, proves the viability for VR to be an all-encompassing educational, cinematic and artistic event. Iñárritu was even honored with a special Oscar for the piece recently.
FSR has covered a small selection of VR projects in the past, particularly when they’re being utilized as part of some promotional campaigns. However, the Lucasfilm and Iñárritu projects take the medium even further and deliver on the potential of VR to actually be larger-than-life storytelling opportunities. These large-scale projects display ample signs that the best immersive qualities of VR aren’t just reserved for the movies. That’s not to say that a less bombastic approach to the medium wouldn’t work either. According to The Tracking Board, STX Entertainment is aiming to make serialized VR projects a feasible reality.
The new report mentions that STX will be expanding its VR slate. The first of these projects — namely, Robert Rodriguez‘s The Limit — is set to kick off a series of new VR content spanning a number of original short-form series. Each of these new shows have some kind of notable figure attached to their creative team. They are all set for release on the company’s Surreal channel, which will launch on VR headsets in the middle of 2018.
The most eye-catching upcoming Surreal project is a Jay and Silent Bob series that will be told from Bob’s (Kevin Smith) perspective. Yes, that means having to deal with motormouth Jay (Jason Mewes). Still, for fans of the View Askewniverse, this could provide some insight into the oft-silent but perennially wise half of the iconic slacker duo.
The Tracking Board states that “viewers will embody the silent fanboy himself while alpha-slacker Jay leads the way through a string of idiotic adventures.” This VR project ties in nicely with a renaissance in Jay and Bob content, as these characters are slated to return to cinemas in reboot form too.
Another comedy project in the works at STX is an Ed Helms series titled New Tricks. He will direct and produce the show, penned by Frank Lesser (The Colbert Report), about a 30-year-old Radio Shack employee who finds out he’s destined to be a wizard when an elf visits him out of the blue. That’s kind of a ludicrous premise, yet part of the trial and error of narrative-driven VR is finding out exactly what sort of ridiculous concepts could succeed in that environment. New Tricks could still be entertaining enough when placed in an immersive setting because it tests the limits of fantasy and reality rather straightforwardly.
STX also commissioned three action series for the Surreal channel. Firstly, there’s an untitled Dave Bautista show in the works. Plot and character details are so scarce that this is all that The Tracking Board knows at the moment. That’s okay though, because Bautista could probably sell an action series on his own name since the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. In collaborating on this Surreal project, Bautista and STX are actually expanding on an existing working relationship. They have a feature-length action-comedy in development as well.
Derek Kolstad, writer of the acclaimed John Wick trilogy, is sticking to what he does best — slick spy-thriller type content — and developing a series about a mysterious government agent. Set in 1947, the show will follow the agent as he investigates a plane crash in rural New Mexico. Eventually, he finds out that something is unusual about the incident. Like Bautista, Kolstad has something else brewing at STX’s film arm: the action thriller Nobody, which will star Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul).
Finally, there really will be an even bigger Mile 22 cinematic universe than anyone ever expected. STX is putting a lot of time and money into a franchise in its preliminary stages. Mile 22 isn’t even out yet, and a sequel to the Peter Berg-helmed Mark Wahlberg starrer was already commissioned in February, and the potential for a VR component was revealed at the time too. Now, it’s been confirmed that Surreal will also release The Kiev Exchange as part of the growing franchise. Written by Umair Aleem (Extraction), the short-form live-action series tracks the CIA’s covert paramilitary force, Ground Branch, as they attempt to diffuse a tense hostage situation in a public square. Something then goes wrong and the unit has to escape an ambush. The Kiev Exchange is billed as a spinoff of Mile 22, and will be produced by Berg, Wahlberg, Matt Goldberg and John Logan Pierson.