LOS ANGELES (January 11, 2020)— Directed and written by Baobab Studios co-founder Eric Darnell (Madagascar franchise, Antz) and co-directed by Mathias Chelebourg, BABA YAGA stars an all-female cast: Oscar winner Kate Winslet (The Reader, Ammonite), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Ophelia), Oscar® and three-time Grammy® winner Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls, and the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic Respect), and three-time Golden Globe winner and seven-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close (The Wife, Albert Nobbs). BABA YAGA is available exclusively on Oculus Quest beginning January 14, 2020.
The VR immersive experience is a contemporary portrayal of the Eastern European legend breathed to life with illustrative 2D pop-up animation, as well as hand-drawn and stop-motion styles, creating a modern visual language for VR inspired by classic animation. Leveraging Baobab’s award-winning animation pioneers and interactive gaming veterans, BABA YAGA blends theater, cinema, interactivity, AI, and animation into a unique experience that explores themes of empowerment and environmentalism. The VR is executive produced by Jennifer Hudson, Maureen Fan, Larry Cutler, and Kane Lee.
In BABA YAGA, the viewer—YOU—are invited into a haunting fairytale world completely reimagined where your choices determine the ending of this story of love, fortitude, and magic. Sometimes a force for evil, sometimes a force for good, the enigmatic witch Baba Yaga (Winslet) uses her powers to stop the villagers whose settlement encroaches upon her enchanted Forest (Hudson). You are Sacha, the eldest and heir to the village throne, and sister to the young and willful Magda (Ridley). When your mother, the Village Chief (Close), falls deathly ill, it is up to you and Magda to do the unthinkable — enter the forbidden rainforest, uncover its hidden mysteries and get the cure from Baba Yaga. Ultimately, every decision Sacha makes matters… perhaps even whether humanity and nature can live in balance.
Additionally, due to the strong environmental themes inherent in the VR experience, Baobab Studios partnered with the United Nations on its climate change and sustainability initiative, creating a BABA YAGA campaign for the UN ActNow app to engage and educate users on ways to take action in safeguarding Earth’s natural resources. To further emphasize reforestation awareness, Baobab and Conservation International are co-sponsoring a final community challenge to be featured in the app this month, reinforced by a donation for the nonprofit’s Protect an Acre initiative.
With multiple endings, each play-through of BABA YAGA is different from the last. The VR experience is designed to play either with hand-held Touch controllers or by utilizing Hand Tracking on the Oculus Quest. This versatility provides a new level of immersive, personalized interaction throughout the story.
Release Date: January 14, 2021
Platform: Available exclusively on Oculus Quest, https://ocul.us/2L43aV4
Format: Interactive VR
Length: 27 minutes (Oculus Quest)
Director: Eric Darnell
Writer: Eric Darnell
Co-Director: Mathias Chelebourg
Cast: Kate Winslet, Daisy Ridley, Jennifer Hudson, Glenn Close
Executive Producers: Jennifer Hudson, Maureen Fan, Larry Cutler, and Kane Lee
Producers: Maureen Fan, Nathaniel Dirksen, Jeremiah Graves
Distributor: Baobab Studios
ABOUT BAOBAB STUDIOS Founded by Maureen Fan, Eric Darnell, and Larry Cutler in 2015, six-time Emmy® Award-winning Baobab Studios is the world’s leading independent interactive animation studio. With a mission to inspire you to dream and bring out your sense of wonder by making you matter, Baobab Studios has released five projects to date—“Invasion!”, “Asteroids!”, “Jack, Crow: The Legend”, and “Bonfire”—all to critical acclaim and commercial success. Named Fast Company’s 2018 Most Innovative Company, its awarding winning work (traditional, VR, and AR) has been viewed millions of times and is known for starring such diverse talents as John Legend, Oprah, Constance Wu, Diego Luna, Liza Koshy, Tye Sheridan, Elizabeth Banks, Ethan Hawke, Lupita Nyong’o, and Ali Wong.