Steven Spielberg is writing a horror series that will literally see him turn to the dark side of entertainment.
In a world first, viewers will only be able to see his latest work when their phone knows it’s dark outside.
The experimental show is for heavyweight media executive Jeffrey Katzenberg’s short video platform Quibi, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Quibi is slated to launch in April 2020.
The groundbreaking concept for Spielberg After Dark was revealed by Katzenberg at a media festival in Canada.
“Steven Spielberg came in, and said, ‘I have a super scary story I want to do’,” Katzenberg said.
“He’s writing it himself. He hasn’t [written anything in a while] so getting him to write something is fantastic.”
But Spielberg’s big creative news came with an unusual proviso.
For maximum spookiness, he only wants people to be able to watch the program without natural light.
“It’s a creepy idea and when they watch it, I want it to be creepier,’” 72-year-old Spielberg said, according to Katzenberg.
That stipulation meant Quibi engineers had to come up wth an idea to prevent Spielberg After Dark being seen before dark.
They designed smartphone technology “with a clock that will allow Spielberg’s series to be viewed only between sun down and sun up, as the smartphone monitors where a user is, what time of the day or night it is, and when sun up and sun down are to occur,” The Hollywood Reporter said.
Content will be tagged so it is tied to a clock that ticks down to sunset and then ticks up to when the sun rises, according to the smartphone’s geographic location.
When it’s daylight, the show will disappear.
Spielberg’s reaction to the innovative solution was fast.
“So he said, ‘OK, let’s do it,'” Katzenberg said.
Twitter’s reaction to the news was just as swift and definite.
While some users said the concept was “interesting” or “amazing”, another said, “Just no”.
Another said the ‘after dark’ concept would work “until it’s bootlegged”.
Several raised the fact that Spielberg opposed Academy Award best picture nominee Roma, streamed on Netflix, being eligible to be Oscar nominated.
“Spielberg wanting to tap into the streaming market is the most hypocritical bulls–t since he spearheaded the ‘no Netflix at the Academy Awards’ movement that robbed Roma of best picture,” tweeted one user.
The famed director, who is also developing a reboot of his anthology series Amazing Stories for Apple TV+, has already written “five or six episodes” that Quibi calls chapters.
Spielberg After Dark will be split into 10 to 12 parts.
Digital startup Quibi has raised $US1 billion ($1.43 billion) from investors before its launch, and is hoping to trigger a “third generation of film narrative” after movies and TV, according to Variety.
But Katzenberg was at pains to say it’s “not really” short form.
“We’re putting those sciences together. Chapters or act breaks that are 7 to 10 minutes long. They are specifically shot to be watched on the go,” he said.
“If you’re 25 to 35 years old, you get up and you’re on [a smartphone] for over five hours.”
Besides Spielberg, other Hollywood big hitters already signed up to produce or star talent for Quibi include Guillermo del Toro, Anna Kendrick, Steven Soderbergh and Laurence Fishburne.