Following years of turning video and board games into movies you watch passively, conserving your energy for snacks, 20th Century Fox is now looking to a more primitive form of interactive entertainment in adapting Choose Your Own Adventure. The long-running book series—which used forked narratives to allow readers to determine its protagonists’ fates, then immediately go back and pick a better one after discovering they’d died—is now being developed into an appropriately twisty “crossplatform four-quadrant action-adventure franchise.” As of now it’s still figuring out what narrative form that will take, given the many different story genres, time periods, locales, and character types the series covered.
If you express cautious optimism in this project anyway, turn to page 6.
If you want nothing else to do with this, turn to page 9.
“One ticket for Choose Your Own Adventure please,” you say to the man in the box office. As he hands it over, you seem to notice a strange, fearful look in his eye—but what would he be afraid of, you wonder? All around you are laughing, smiling families enjoying a day at the movies. What could possibly go wrong?
You settle in with popcorn and soda in hand, anxiously awaiting the film you’ve been so excited for, ever since hearing news of its development. After all, you loved reading your way through the books as a kid. Surely you’ll also love watching them extrapolated into a narrative that bears some loose resemblance to the basic conceit without actually replicating its inherent pleasures.
The lights go down. A hush settles over the now-crowded theater. A producer credit comes up for John Davis, a name you recognize from his work on Will Smith’s I, Robot and all of the Garfield and latter-day Eddie Murphy movies.
If you want to stay seated, turn to page 7.
If you have a sudden, sobering moment of clarity, turn to page 9.
Some 45 excruciating minutes have passed. Adam Sandler or possibly The Rock or maybe Eddie Murphy or potentially Will Smith have already bumbled their way through at least three comic mishap-filled adventures you definitely didn’t choose. No, you certainly didn’t choose this. You expected at least a passing nod to audience interactivity—to the inherent nature of the books you once cherished—not just a nostalgic reference couched in yet another family-friendly adventure film where outlandish circumstances are waved away with explanations of “magic” and the adult male actors are humiliated until they finally bond with their estranged children.
“Ha ha!” one of the mouth-breathing preservative-bags next to you snorts around their gob of Junior Mints, clearly enjoying themselves.
If you just want to get out now, turn to page 9.
If there’s something fucking wrong with you, keep reading.
“Oh my god, everything is on fire!” the scream comes from seemingly all directions, the panic as thick and acrid as the smoke now curling the corners of the immense movie screen. “Get away from that lunatic!” Could they mean you? Could this be the “adventure” you chose? Is it too late to seek ablution, to be baptized anew in waters far from here?
Turn to page 9.
“Ahoy there, matey!” a tall, haggard pirate calls from one end of the gangplank. As he walks toward you, his peg-leg beats time against the wooden deck, growing louder as the figure approaches. You gasp. It’s the famed Long John Silver, scourge of the Seven Seas! The rum wafts hot on his breath as he leans down and looks at you with his one good eye.
“You be the swabby of this ship, aye?” Silver says, a smirk curling his lip around rotted teeth. “How’d ye like to be me first mate? I have a fine vessel over yonder could use a stout lad such as yerself. Pays all the doubloons ye can steal!”
Long John Silver lets out a hearty laugh that’s echoed by his crew members. You gulp. Something about this man seems untrustworthy, yet you follow him anyway—just like you followed your instincts out here to begin a new life on the sea. After all, there are no Choose Your Own Adventure movies at the bottom of the ocean.