Steven Spielberg is creating a “super scary” new project for his old Dreamworks’ partner Jeffrey Katzenberg’s newest start-up, Quibi.
But to properly enhance its inherent creepiness, viewers will only be able to watch it after dark.
Quibi, which stands for “quick bites” of video, will launch April 6, 2020 and present feature-length stories in short “chapters” of no more than 10 minutes, a venture that Katzenberg says will bring together the best of Hollywood and Silicon Valley.
Katzenberg didn’t offer plot details on Spielberg’s project, but said he will join other A-list Hollywood talent such as Antoine Fuqua, Catherine Hardwicke and Doug Liman in creating big-budget content for the new platform, which is designed specifically for a mobile device.
Spielberg pitched his idea to Katzenberg, but said he only wanted users to be able to watch it after dark.
“He is writing it himself,” said Katzenberg, who gave a keynote speech on Sunday evening at the Banff World Media Festival. “So he has actually written five or six chapters of what I think will be 10 or 12 chapters, which is exciting for me because . . . as well as being a director and producer he’s an incredible writer but it’s hard for him to find that time. So getting him to actually write something has been fantastic.”
Katzenberg approached his Quibi team and asked if it was possible to tag content that could only be watched at nighttime.
“The engineers came back and made a cool presentation for us,” Katzenberg said. “They designed a one-sheet and it’s called Spielberg’s After Dark. And in the bottom corner there’s a clock and it’s clicking down to when sun sets and you can watch it. And then the clock starts clicking towards when the sun will come up and it will disappear.”
Katzenberg, the former chairman of Walt Disney Studios who co-founded DreamWorks Pictures in 1994 with Spielberg and David Geffen, spent most of his hour-long chat in Banff promoting Quibi, which he developed with former Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman.
The venture has raised $1-billion and will spend another $470-million in marketing. Katzenberg says all the major studios have signed on to create content.
He said Quibi will represent the “third generation of film narrative,” after traditional motion pictures and television. The content is not “short form,” as most will be two to two-and-a-half hours in length. He compared the Quibi approach to how authors divide novels into easily digestible chapters.
“They are very specifically shot, designed to be watched on the go,” he says. “It you are 25 to 35 years old, which is our core audience, you get up everyday from 7 in the morning until 7 at night you are on (a mobile device) for over five hours. You are communicating, collaborating, you’re on social media you’re playing casual games and you are actually watching now 70 minutes of content.”
Quibi will also have a news and alternative programming, including non-scripted projects. But during its free trial period, which Katzenberg says will probably last two weeks, the platform will present the first eight “super premium” movies. It will present a new premium project every other week for a year after that.
“Those are what we call the top of the pyramid for us, they are our lighthouses,” he said. “It’s what House of Cards was for Netflix or what Handmaid’s Tale is for Hulu. These are things that create brand. They are brand definers.”
The Banff World Media Festival runs until Wednesday at Fairmont Banff Springs.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019