A limited series based on a script co-authored by late Muppets creator Jim Henson toplines a list of announcements coming from virtual reality producers Felix & Paul Studios. Its 35-project development slate explores everything from mental illness to the afterlife.
Although Henson is best known for muppet characters (Kermit the Frog, Missy Piggy), he had a more experimental side, seen in short film “Time Piece” (1965) and hour-long teleplay “The Cube” (1969, shown above), which explored themes such as alienation and conformity. In that spirit he undertook “Tale of Sand,” which follows a man making his way through a dreamlike desert landscape, pursued by a one-eyed assassin.
Henson and frequent collaborator Jerry Juhl began working on the script in the 1960s and they put it aside in the mid-1970s, as “The Muppet Show” took off. In 2014, it was turned into as a graphic novel by artist Ramon Perez, and now screenwriter Jacob Chase is adapting it for a VR feature.
“You are with one actor for the whole movie, and it unfolds as you are experiencing it,” says Lisa Henson, CEO of the Jim Henson Co. “It’s a great part, and I hope we can find a very magnetic movie star to be in it.”
Felix & Paul is already working with casting director Mary Vernieu on “Pinkbox,” a six-episode psycho-sexual thriller from female creator Brandon Milbradt about a women’s uprising in a red light district of the near future, tentatively scheduled to begin shooting in Montreal in September. It was originally developed for HBO, and Felix & Paul plans to keep production values on par with those of the premium cable network.
Other newly announced projects in development from Felix & Paul include the series “Outlier,” produced by and starring Michael B. Jordan; the thriller “The Willows,” produced with Michael Fassbender’s DMC Film; the anthology “The Dreams Series,” presented by Gus Van Sant; “The Length of Love” from writer-director Ned Benson (“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”); an untitled supernatural thriller from Tim Kring (“Heroes”) and Scott Kosar (“The Machinist”); “Panopticon,” a mixed-reality take on the future of surveillance; and an untitled mental-health drama in the spirit of “Transparent” from creator Hannah Pearl Utt.
Completed and awaiting release is “Traveling While Black,” described as “a nonfiction project that takes the viewer through time to different stories concerning the civil-rights movement,” from documentarian Roger Ross Williams.
The company is also developing a spinoff of the hit History channel series “Vikings” for location-based virtual reality content along with high-end headsets about Valhalla, where slain Norse warriors reside in the afterlife. Also in the works: a project with NASA to be shot on the International Space Station, projects with Universal Music Group, and others with longtime collaborator Cirque du Soleil.