The Jim Henson Company is diving into augmented-reality, partnering with entertainment studio Felix and Paul to produce AR storybook The Storyteller: The Seven Ravens (pictured).
Based on Henson’s ’80s anthology series The Storyteller—which blended fairytales and folklore with puppets and some darker mystical elements—users will be able to use a Magic Leap headset to explore the fairytale of The Seven Ravens. In the story aimed at tweens, a young girl embarks on an adventure to save her seven brothers from a curse that turned them all into ravens. Writer Neil Gaiman—who is also an exec producer on Henson and Freemantle’s reboot of The Storyteller—will narrate the AR version of the story. Readers an also
Production on the storybook is supported by the Canadian Media Fund, Magic Leap Independent Creators Program, Epic MegaGrants and SODEC Quebec. Lisa Henson and Blanca Lista will executive produce the project for Henson, while Stephane Rituit will exec produce for Felix and Paul Studios.
It’s early days on the in-development project, and details like pricing and length haven’t been finalized yet, says Connie Kuang, the director of marketing at Felix and Paul.
Expanding the property into AR lets Henson explore The Storyteller’s world in new ways, while also creating a different kind of digital experience the prodco hasn’t tried before. And for CEO and president Lisa Henson, The Storyteller is a brand that’s “near and dear” to her heart.
“I majored in folklore in college and I pitched the original idea of The Storyteller to my dad [Jim Henson], and it’s one I’ve continued working to keep growing over the years,” she says. “Now, getting to listen to Neil’s voice and follow along visually with the story really helps bring us back to the oral and verbal roots of how these fairytales were originally shared.”
Studio heads Felix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphael approached Henson with the idea because they’re big fans of The Storyteller graphic novels series, which have been published continuously with LA-based publisher Archaia since 2011.
Felix & Paul Studios is creating its first AR project with this production, extending the immersive capabilities from virtual reality, which the studio specializes in. By blending AR and a book, the studio is able to create a natural viewing experience. Since reading is so imaginative, and audiences are used to suspending their disbelief and picturing a story play out when reading, AR simply builds on what’s already happening in people’s minds, adds Kuang.
“We’ve wanted to work with Felix and Paul Studios for a while,” says Henson. “It’s exciting to bring the brand into the new realm to give audiences a new way to connect with the property, and I’m confident it will resonate because good storytelling works in any medium.”