Interlude, an Israeli video tech company that was deemed worthy of making a music video for one of the greatest rock classics of all time, Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” is now going to Hollywood to apply its technology to another classic.
In a deal announced Tuesday that will see Interlude get $18.2 million in a funding round led by movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, MGM will use Interlude tech to create an original digital short inspired by MGM’s three-time Academy Award-nominated 1983 feature film “WarGames.”
MGM was joined in the funding round by Warner Music Group, Samsung, and returning investors including Sequoia Capital, Intel Capital and others. As part of the deal, MGM’s chairman and CEO Gary Barber have joined Interlude’s board of directors as observers.
In WarGames, high school student David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) unintentionally nearly starts World War III after hacking into a top-secret US military computer that is the main instrument of America’s of nuclear offensive capability. Lightman has to make choices as part of the war game activity he stumbled into in order to avoid war.
The WarGames digital short will be a modern take on the original, putting the decisions in the hands of the audience and presenting viewers with interactive choices that could resolve the international crisis – or bring the world closer to nuclear annihilation.
“We are very excited to be working with Interlude on this audience-driven interactive story experience,” said Roma Khanna, president, Television Group and Digital, MGM. “’WarGames’ is the perfect MGM title for this innovative technology. It allows us to engage the audience in the fundamental question of ‘what would you do?’”
WarGames is a classic – one of the first movies ever about hacking, and revered by a generation – and Interlude has a knack for being chosen to bring classics into the modern era. It took 48 years for an official video to be released for “Like a Rolling Stone,” the classic 1965 Bob Dylan song about life on the streets for a runaway – but Dylan, an iconoclast who consistently rejected the idea of music videos for his works, was convinced once he saw Interlude’s technology to let CEO Yoni Bloch take a stab at turning the song into a music video.
Interlude uses video to create an interactive experience in which viewers can respond to events and change the course of the video. The videos can adapt in a multitude of directions; like in a video game, the viewer steps into the story to make choices that affect the dialogue and even the plot, so that viewers are offered nearly infinite experiences in live-action video within a single piece of content. The result is highly engaging game-like videos that consumers play over and over, according to Bloch.
“Though video has always been a very powerful storytelling medium, it has not, to date, been able to adjust and adapt from viewer to viewer,” said Bloch. “But we are aiming to allow filmmakers and content to form a unique connection with each viewer. This has the potential to change the relationship between film and individual audience members.
“I have always been fascinated by this classic movie. ‘WarGames’ is more relevant than ever; it combines a look at hacking with the moral issues of treating war as a game,” said Bloch. “Our goal is to create a new medium, and to bring this gripping story to a whole new generation that is now demanding more immersive video experiences.”