Yahoo is getting into the entertainment business and to legitimize their standing, they’ve signed an exclusive deal with Tom Hanks’ production company, Playtone, to stream a science fiction animation series created by and starring Hanks.
The web series, called ‘Electric City, will be a post-apocalyptic show portraying an anti-dystopian future. It has been described as WALL-E inspired and would be set amidst the “good life and good world (that) has been created out of the usual end-of-life scenarios (and that) hasn’t degenerated into an Orwellian society.” Hanks will voice the lead character in the 20 episode web series that will also focus on socially conscious topics like energy consumption and the freedom of information. Each episode is set to run about three to four minutes long.
As a self-proclaimed Trekkie, Hanks attributes the original ‘Star Trek’ series as a model for ‘Electric City.’ The idea for the series actually came to him about 6 years ago but at the time Hanks had imagined it as “a very gripping, almost film-noir, very serious look at a future that was not a dysfunctional dystopia.” In the original creation of the show, the series would have used marionettes. “We wanted it to look incredibly different and yet familiar,” Hanks had said. Eventually (and thankfully?) the series evolved into the animation project that will be seen on Yahoo.
This isn’t Hank’s first foray into online productions. After discovering YouTube during the filming of ‘Larry Crowne’, Hanks set up his own YouTube channel and launched a web talk show called ‘The Three Minute Talk Show.’ It’s been said that Hanks is very excited about this new media so it wouldn’t be surprising if his production company started producing more original web projects.
As for Yahoo, although they already stream several news information types of shows, ‘Electric City’ will be their first scripted program in their lineup. Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo’s executive VP Americas, jokingly commented, “This is the most money we’ve ever spent on a scripted show. Of course, it’s also the first scripted show.” Yahoo and Hanks hope that ‘Electric City’ will be successful enough to turn into a franchise. If received well, it could spawn an online role playing game, home video, graphic novels and may even get a 90 minute theatrical movie made from it.
The first look of ‘Electric City’ wil be at a 45 minute invitation only presentation to take place at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas tomorrow. There, snippets of the web series will be shown. For the rest of us not so lucky to be invited, Yahoo plans to start streaming the episodes this spring.