Tom Hanks is making a web series.
Dave Itzkoff at the New York Times broke the news late last week that the person in possession of one of the entertainment industry’s most crowded mantels will release an animated, post-apocalyptic, episodic online program in early 2011. Dubbed Electric City, the series will flip the iconic sci-fi idea of a dystopian future on its head, and present a WALL-E-inspired “good life and good world [that] has been created out of the usual end-of-life scenarios.”
Produced by Hanks, his producing partner Gary Goetzman, and their Playtone Company, Electric City and its accompanying announcement are interesting for at least three key reasons (aside from the obvious, “OMG Tom hanks is doing a web series!?”):
Tom Hanks is making a web series for the same reason everyone else is making them. No film studios or television companies wanted to make Electric City as a film or TV show, so Hanks is taking it online. Hanks tells Itzkoff he conceived of the series over six years ago and shopped the project to several American studios, but couldn’t find a match. After several iterations, the show evolved into a web series comprised of 20 three-minute installments.
Big Guns in Hollywood are taking web series international. After Hanks couldn’t find an American studio for Electric City, he went to India and found a partner in the Mumbai-based studio, Reliance. No stranger to funding American entertainment projects, Hanks said Reliance, “Immediately came to us.” Hanks is also enthusiastic about the 700 or so million people in India who speak English, “who are very much used to looking at things that last about three minutes on their phones.”
If a story about one of the entertainment industry’s biggest names seeking international funding and distribution for a web project comes as no surprise to you, that’s because it’s been done before. Michael Eisner’s new media studio, Vuguru, signed a multi-million dollar deal with Canada’s Rogers Media and just recently announced Fireworks International will sell a Vuguru series, The Booth, overseas on 183 channels in 166 territories.
Tom Hanks is excited by online video. He went a little YouTube-happy on set during the filming of one of his latest motion pictures, Larry Crowne. The guy also has an affinity for filming Woody sightings.
Just by the fact Hanks has a YouTube channel with at least a handful of uploads shows you he’s excited about new media. Something which leads me to believe I’ll be writing about many more Tom Hanks web projects in the not-so-distant, hopefully anti-Orwellian future.