Netflix may have one more surprise in 2018 in the form of a Black Mirror movie or interactive episode, titled Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. The streaming giant is becoming well known for dropping surprises, with sudden releases of episodes and, of course, the Super Bowl drop of The Cloverfield Paradox earlier this year.
And if there's one Netflix show that feels custom made for a different release approach, it's Black Mirror. Originally created by Channel 4 in the UK, Charlie Brooker's pitch-black tech-themed anthology series became a Netflix Original in season 3, with twelve new episodes since 2016. However, for all the great episodes that's led to, there's been a sense of restriction; while it pushes narrative and conceptual boundaries with its stories, there's something rather static about how Black Mirror is released as sets of six, hour-long episodes.
Could that all be changing very soon? There's mounting evidence that Black Mirror: Bandersnatch will be making a surprise drop just a couple of days after Christmas - and be a very different experience indeed. Here's all the evidence and what we think's really going on.
Black Mirror Season 5 Has Been Made... But Is A Secret
First things first, Black Mirror is definitely getting a season 5. It was announced in March and went straight into production. Since then, though, very little has been revealed - Miley Cyrus was able to confirm involvement but not much more - and, at first, the assumption was that there'd be the usual six episodes. That's begun to change.
There's Rumors Of An Interactive Black Mirror Episode
Netflix has been making original content for five years now, allowing it to become more and more dominant in the living room. This has mainly centered on television shows and movies, but the streaming giant wants more. It was reported earlier this year that Netflix was experimenting with interactive TV shows, essentially narrative video games. This already exists in the form of Puss in Boots: Trapped in an Epic Tale, but it was rumored that Black Mirror would soon get the treatment. No other information has been revealed about this.
Netflix Accidentally Revealed A December 2018 Black Mirror Release Date
Here's where it gets interesting and becomes clear that the lack of communication around Black Mirror season 5 is about mystery. On November 20(via Reddit), NX on Netflix, the service's Twitter account dedicated to sci-fi, tweeted out a December 2018 programme that included something called Black Mirror: Bandersnatch on December 28. This was quickly pulled, leaving two options: either it was a mistake, or NX revealed the secret early. Given everything so far, the latter seems more likely.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Has A Listing On Netflix
Most recently, a listing for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch has appeared on Netflix (check it out here). A generic image and tagline ("Be right back") belie a lot of information. It immediately confirms the Bandersnatch title, which would back up the December 28 release date. More curiously, it's listed as "A Netflix Film". That would indicate the next Black Mirror is a single special, not season 5.
At this point, it's also worth, briefly, touching on the meaning of Bandersnatch. A Wonderland creature from the world of Lewis Carroll, it's been used all over fantasy media, including as the title for a canceled, story-driven game from short-lived UK studios Imagine Software. It's been theorized this is the inspiration for the Black Mirror movie, lining up with 1980s-themed set photos.
Conclusion: Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Is An Interactive Netflix Movie Releasing On December 28
Bringing together everything we know, there's one obvious conclusion: Netflix is planning the surprise release of the next piece of Black Mirror content, titled Bandersnatch, on December 28; this isn't a traditional season but a single-story experience, and given the name and surrounding context is likely the interactive episode. There's been no official word from anybody involved, but all eyes will surely be on the streaming service come next Friday morning.
What Does This Mean For Black Mirror Season 5?
There's one aspect of this that hasn't been addressed in any way: Black Mirror season 5, the starting point for all the speculation. At the moment, most are assuming that Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and season 5 are separate entities, although with no real knowledge of cast (beyond Miley Cirus), that's hard to confirm. However, if there is indeed an interactive Black Mirror episode coming, that could replace season 5; it would surely require much more than an hour's worth of footage, possibly more than a six-episode season.