Microsoft reveals full slate of Xbox Originals TV programs
By Dave LeClair
April 29, 2014
Microsoft is expanding the entertainment options available to Xbox users with the announcement of Xbox Originals, an initiative that will see the company rolling out original programming directly to Xbox Live users. Microsoft isn't restricting the shows only to early adopters of its latest console with the new content to be available on Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles.
The move from Microsoft follows similar efforts from internet-based outlets including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon that have already brought original content to their respective services. Xbox Entertainment Studios, the branch responsible for the new content, has already locked down some big name Hollywood talent to develop its original programming, with names including Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott already involved in two Halo-based projects. Spielberg will executive produce a live-action Halo TV series, while Scott and David Zucker will executive produce a Halo digital feature.
The shows aren't just based on established Microsoft game-related properties, though. There are also some reality shows planned, such as Every Street United, which will have stars from football (soccer) scouring the globe in search of undiscovered talent in the world of street football.
On the music front, Bonnaroo will take viewers to the 13th annual Bonnaroo music and arts festival that runs from June 13 to 15 at Manchester, Tennessee. Through the use of the Bonnaroo app, fans will be able to check out this year's lineup and view performances from previous years.
Xbox also plans a six-film documentary series with the working title of Signal to Noise, the first of which will tell the story of the thousands of unsold E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Atari 2600 cartridges buried in the New Mexico desert. Xbox did not announce what other stories will be told in the documentary series, but did say there will be six individual films exposing "little known stories of how modern technology has radically altered the way we interact with our world."
On the fictional side of things is a drama called "Humans," an adaptation of the Swedish series Real Humans that is set in a parallel present. It will feature eight one hour-long episodes about advanced robotic servants called Synth, which end up being the must-have family gadget. It will be a co-production with the UK's Channel 4 with production set to begin later this year ahead of a 2015 premiere.
Microsoft intends to launch Xbox Originals from June with the aforementioned shows, but also has a slew of other projects in development. These include Deadlands, a show based on the pen-and-paper RPG of the same name. Like the game, it will be set in an alternate history version of the wild west, populated with undead gunfighters, mad scientists, and the like. Also in development is Extraordinary Believers, a hybrid stop-motion animated show from the creators of the popular Robot Chicken series.
Other scripted shows in the works include Gun Machine, a detective series based on the novel by Warren Ellis, and Winterworld, a live-action series based on the graphic novel of the same name by Chuck Dixon and artist Jorge Zaffino. It's about what would happen if the world was encased in ice, and with the ongoing popularity of the post-apocalyptic theme in various forms of media, this could be one to watch.
Moving onto the unscripted programs in development we get Fearless, a show about Australian Navy bomb clearance diver and shark attack survivor Paul de Gelder, who travels around aiding individuals who put their lives at risk to help others.
Finally, we have an untitled comedy variety show from JASH, a comedy collective founded by Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim, Eric and Reggie Watts. The plan for this show is to have a new host curate the content of the show each week, presenting new or unsung talent that makes them laugh.
Microsoft hopes to make the Xbox, specifically the Xbox One, the main entertainment hub for its users, and having some original content outside of the standard media apps will go a long way towards making that happen. It is also looking to provide a point of difference to its competitors, promising all Xbox Orginals programs will have interactive features customized to each show. Of course, success will ultimately come down to the quality of the content. Netflix knocked it out of the park with hits like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, so it will be interesting to see if Microsoft can do the same.
Source: Xbox WireShare
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