Big Fantastic, the production company behind SamHas7Friends, Prom Queen and Cockpit, whom we interviewed here, is set to script 50 two-minute webisodes based on the upcoming Robin Cook book, “Foreign Body.” The production will be headed by Michael Eisner’s Vuguru and Big Fantastic will work in partnership with Cyber Group Animation. Sounds like a winner.
The show is set to debut on May 27 and will air every Monday through Friday for 10 weeks, with the finale premiering on August 4. The book will hit stores the very next day.
It’s a pretty ingenious marketing tactic: sites like Vidlit and BookVideos have used shorts and author interviews as a promotional tool for books, but no one has experimented with dramatic web series that actually extends the story. It’s a strategy that both book publisher G.P. Putnam and Eisner believe will attract readers from untapped markets:
“This is a whole new way to get an audience that’s not reading as much as they did in the past to get to know the characters in a novel,” Eisner told the New York Post. “Hopefully they’ll get attached enough to go out and buy the book.”
No word yet on the distribution partnerships, but if Vuguru’s previous deals are any indication, our best bet would be Veoh as the likely go-to platform, with which Eisner is already financially involved. The Post also notes that ads will be served against the videos, but there’s no word yet what form it may take. My guess is a series-long sponsor a la Hairspray and PromQueen.
“Foreign Body” by Cook focuses on unexplained deaths in foreign hospitals. Previous best-selling medical thrillers include “Coma,” “Outbreak” and “Mindbend.”
The collaboration between a book publisher and an internet-TV studio represents a growing recognition that entertainment media has become an immersive experience.
Update: Newteevee confirms earlier reports that the budget for the project is around $10,000 per episode, or $500,000 for the entire series. They also report that part of the series will be shot in India (because a good portion of the book takes place there) and that Cook gavei Big Fantastic a “bare bones” outline, which the production is turning into a script.