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Lean Forward’s Choose Your Own Adventure DVDs let kids steer the story

Ever been so frustrated by the ending of a movie that you wished you had those two hours of your life back? Well, take heart because an L.A.-based company called Lean Forward Media wants to let viewers determine the outcome of its DVDs based on the Choose Your Own Adventure book franchise from the '80s.
April 1, 2005

Ever been so frustrated by the ending of a movie that you wished you had those two hours of your life back? Well, take heart because an L.A.-based company called Lean Forward Media wants to let viewers determine the outcome of its DVDs based on the Choose Your Own Adventure book franchise from the ’80s.

The new format lets kids use their remotes to choose action paths that will lead to different endings of the same story. ‘We wanted to establish a participatory category in entertainment,’ says Michelle Crames, co-CEO of Lean Forward with Jeff Norton.

Crames and Norton both grew up reading Choose Your Own Adventures, which Bantam published from 1980 to 1992. The series spawned more than 200 books, sold as many as 150 million copies. Lean Forward has acquired exclusive home entertainment rights to the book property, which Sundance Publishing is planning to relaunch in print this fall.

L.A.’s Mike Young Productions is currently working on a lead-off CGI DVD called The Abominable Snowman, which tags along as three kids set out to rescue their globetrotting Uncle Rudy from kidnappers in the Himalayas. The first fork in the story happens en route to Nepal, when the kids must decide whether to bail out of their faltering plane or attempt a crash-landing. Eleven different endings range from pretty bad (the kids meet a poacher who throws them into a pit of tigers) to great (they rescue Uncle Rudy, doing good deeds along the way, and meet the mysterious yeti).

The project has attracted an impressive lineup of Hollywood talent, including William H. Macy and Frankie Muniz, who have signed on to voice characters and executive produce.

The Abominable Snowman will be ready to hit shelves in early 2006, followed by a second title 10 months later. Crames says the company wants to test the market with these first two disks before determining how many titles will follow on a quarterly basis.

While it’s primarily being developed for DVD, the series could be adapted for any non-linear platform, including video-on-demand, mobile phones and interactive TV. Norton says Lean Forward also plans to license the format to companies with properties that suit the Choose Your Own Adventure approach.

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