At Comic-Con last weekend, web series were part of the story, as Bryan Singer and Tom Hanks both unveiled new online ventures. Tuesday, while the headlines tout Yahoo!'s new boss Marissa Mayer, the web portal launches the first ten 4-7-minute episodes of Hanks’ animated dystopian sci-fi adventure “Electric City." The next ten installments will be released on July 18 and 19.
Heinlein fan Hanks has been developing the Reliance Entertainment-backed project for some two years at Playtone. The well-written, handsomely animated series immediately draws you into its polluted future world, in which rebel grandmothers fight against mob gangsters via hunky hired assassin Cleveland Carr, voiced by Hanks. (His blond love interest runs a radio show, natch.) Do-good killer Carr operates in a primitive post-apocalyptic low-tech society with no power grid and danger around every corner. The NYT spoke to Hanks here and Singer here.
Hanks has long been a prolific producer, from HBO's "Band of Brothers" and "Pacific" with Steven Spielberg, to "Big Love."
He has no expectations of making money on "Electric City"; Reliance wants the content for all the mobile phone users in India, Yahoo wants clicks on a page, and it's fun to create with freedom, Hanks told the NYT:
"They say, 'Let us pay you to create content,' and we say, 'Great, because we have this content we’re really excited about.' But the caveat is, no one gets rich. Everybody got a check for doing this. I don’t think anybody makes money at this thing. But they get the freedom in order to do whatever they want to do. And that’s palpable, man. That gets everybody excited. We get to do whatever we want to do here? Yeah, you do. Well, sign us up, we got another 20 story ideas. And it could go on and on and on forever."
Yahoo! has also built an interactive online site for the series including a 3-D map of Electric City, behind-the-scenes footage and games. Based on the impact of Yahoo's inetractive viral marketing (see video and trailer below), there may be an audience for this.
Jeanne Tripplehorn (“Big Love”), Holland Taylor (“Two and a Half Men”), Ginnifer Goodwin ("Walk the Line"), Jason Antoon, Chris Parnell, Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Georg Stanford Brown round out the sprawling voice cast.
Here's the “Electric City” synopsis:
The world as we know it has ended and out of the rubble, the Electric City stands as a symbol of peace and security. Yet under the veneer of order lies a world full of secrets and violence. Secret police, back-alley dealings, daring chases, and murder all find a home in the “Electric City.” Through the lens of a functioning, yet dystopian metropolis, “Electric City” touches upon relevant global issues and themes including energy consumption, freedom of information, crime and punishment and more. The story unfolds gradually, layering mystery upon mystery, inviting viewers to interact with the content and each other. Metaphors and symbols are woven throughout, creating a perfect environment for puzzle-solving and community interaction. Like all good science fiction, “Electric City” raises provocative questions about our own way of life and value systems. Short-form connecting storylines combined with vivid animation and a compelling score will keep audiences watching, while metaphors and a range of subject lines will keep them guessing—and reflecting.