Baobab co-founder Eric Darnell, who co-directed and co-wrote all of the Madagascar films as well as Antz!, wrote and is directing Bonfire, which is being billed an an absurd alien adventure. Wong plays Debbie, the robot sidekick to Space Scout 817, like Boabab’s previous interactive experiences the main character controlled by the user/viewer.
The plot: You are on a mission to discover a new home for the human race after it has made a mess of Earth, and eventually crash-land on an unknown planet 300 light-years away. Your only source of light is your makeshift bonfire, and you only have Debbie to guide you. In this intimate setting, you have the opportunity to embrace, explore and influence the world around you, and, perhaps, make new friends. In the end, the choice is ultimately yours: Will you follow your captain or your conscience?
“We wanted to put the viewers in the middle of a story where they can develop believable, meaningful relationships with other characters so that the viewers feel that their interactions with these characters have legitimate stakes — that their decisions really matter,” Darnell said.
Added Wong: “When they asked me to voice a character for a virtual reality experience, I thought I was going to be an action hero lighting garbage cans on fire. I didn’t know it was going to be this story that could go in several directions depending on the viewer’s choices. And when I finally watched Bonfire with the goggles and everything, I was surprised by how touching and fun the whole experience was.”
The studio, founded by Darnell, Larry Cutler and Maureen Fan, won an Annie Award this year for Crow: The Legend, while Asteroids! played at Sundance. Invasion!, featuring Ethan Hawke as narrator, won a Daytime Emmy for interactive original content in 2017.
Wong, a regular on ABC’s American Housewife, is the latest Hollywood talent to collaborate with the studio, joining the likes of John Legend, Elizabeth Banks, Hawke and Tye Sheridan.