As its name makes blindingly clear, streaming service Quibi is all about the qui bis—or “quick bites,” as those of you still stuck on English 1.0 might call them. From Day One, the service has promised that all of its content, movies and TV shows alike, was designed to work perfectly in a 6-minute, watch-on-the-go-if-there-was-anywhere-to-go-now format, leaving old ideas about duration to the dinosaurs. It was a new wave in content production, acknowledging viewing trends and the rise of cellphones to create, not just the viewing platform of the present, but also that of the future. More than that, it was a statement of principle: Attention spans keep changing, audiences keep changing, and we need to race forward with how we present our content in order to keep up.
Anyway, Quibi is drive-ins now.
That’s right: Per THR, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s troubled start-up has foregone those aforementioned principles in favor of doing the thing everyone’s talking about right now, because they sure as fuck aren’t talking about Quibi. Specifically, the company recently did a drive-in release of Veena Sud’s The Stranger, a rideshare-themed update on The Hitcher that’s generally been held up as one of Quibi’s more interesting filmic offerings. As Sud put it before the screening, “The Stranger was made for your small screen, for your phone screen. We’ve strung the entire series together into a feature and each episode is divided by time cards so you’ll see that as you watch. Originally it would drop in your phone every day, consecutive days, for 13 days and 13 episodes.”
There’s something conceptually wild about this whole idea, as Sud’s film was essentially chopped into pieces before it was ever filmed, then reassembled now; it’s kind of like that thing where you drop a sentence into an online translator and then translate it back into English and it comes out everything is messy. (Sorry, that’s what Russian does to “all higgledy-piggledy,” which was, admittedly, a pretty tough one to process.)
The Stranger event was launched in association with Collider; it’s not clear if the company will continue trying to leverage its not-inconsiderable assets in this way with other drive-in screenings. After all, by this point, you’re probably a lot more likely to get people to see your stuff by projecting it onto a random wall in Los Angeles than you are by hiding it in the rotting graveyard of the Quibi app.