Last month, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch took up the entire weekend for people around the world. Viewers spent hours attempting to work their way through the episodic film’s twists and turns en route to whatever ending they wanted most — or at least to the most endings. The project adopted the popular “choose your own adventure” structure of so many ’80s and ’90s kid novels in an attempt to comment on the ways in which our pop culture is as much built around the illusion of choice as anything else. However, as it turns out, that creative release device may prove expensive for Netflix.
Chooseco, LLC, the company which owns the copyright for the specific “Choose Your Own Adventure” brand, alleges in its lawsuit that Netflix attempted to solicit a license for the property as far back as 2016. In the filing, Chooseco alleges that “Chooseco and Netflix engaged in extensive negotiations that were ongoing for a number of years, but Netflix did not receive a license… On at least one occasion before the release of Bandersnatch, Chooseco sent a written cease and desist request to Netflix asking Netflix to stop using the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE mark in connection with its marketing efforts for another television program”.
The controversy seems to primarily stem from the dark nature of Black Mirror’s subject matter. The lawsuit alleges that “The film’s dark and, at times, disturbing content dilutes the goodwill for and positive associations with Chooseco’s mark and tarnishes its products.” The company is seeking $25 million from Netflix, suggesting that the series specifically trades on nostalgia for the Choose Your Own Adventure brand. (For what it’s worth, the brand is specifically name-checked within the film.)
We’ll be following this story as it develops. Find a copy of the filing below (via Pitchfork).