The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009)

Narrative structure, information elements, fictional world and strategies of immersive development.

101 min readMar 24, 2020

This document proposes an analysis of The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009).
The research considers the product and its materials by studying the creative choices, the informative properties, the modalities of visual representation and promotion imagining new immersive experiences to expand Cormac McCarthy’s original novel (Knopf, 2006).

This document was originally published in May 2017.

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Directed by John Hillcoat
Screenplay by Joe Penhall (from Cormac McCarthy’s novel)
Cinematography — Javier Aguirresarobe
Film editing Jon Gregory
Production design Chris Kennedy
Costume design Margot Wilson

Produced by
Nick Wechsler
Paula Mae Schwartz
Steve Schwartz

Viggo Mortensen—Man
Kodi Smit-McPhee—Child
Robert Duvall—Old Man
Michael Kenneth Williams—Thief
Guy Pearce—Veteran
Charlize Theron—Woman

Runtime — 111 minutes

Music by
Nick Cave
Warren Ellis

Release date — 25 November 2009 (United States)


A catastrophic event has made the world desolate, and humanity lives in a state of violent anarchy. Survivors of a dramatic past, a father and baby are on their way to the southern coast of the United States in search of a better climate.

When the member of a cannibal gang captures the child, the father is forced to shoot the man and flee with his son, abandoning the cart with all the supplies. Hungry, the two enter to inspect a house and, forced a trap door, discover mutilated prisoners in a cellar, used as a source of food. Almost discovered by the cannibal owners, the father is now determined to kill the child, but an attempted revolt by the prisoners allows them to escape.

Exhausted, the man and the boy accidentally discover an underground warehouse full of food, water and fuel, where they finally manage to rest. After only a few days, however, hearing the nocturnal noises, the father decided to leave the shelter continuing the journey.

The next day, on the street, father and son assist an almost blind old man named Ely and together they spend the night in a wood. Resumed the journey alone, father and son witnessed a double murder by a group of cannibals and survived a sudden earthquake.

Once on the seashore, the father leaves the child alone on the beach to swim to the wreckage of a ship, looking for resources. But while the man is in the water, the child falls asleep and is robbed of all provisions. Tracked down and threatened with death the thief, the father takes back the cart and leaves the man without food and clothes. When crossing a ruined town, the father is attacked and injured in the leg by an archer. After the assassin is killed, the wound is medicated and the journey resumed, the man’s health conditions become critical and force him to leave the trolley behind and stop.

Now exhausted and unable to move, the father says goodbye to his son and dies during the night. Left alone and without provisions, the son is surprised by an armed man. When the stranger is questioned, the child decides to trust him and is thus welcomed into a new family of survivors.

0. Index

  1. Introduction
    Dystopia realism
  2. Analysis
    Visual translation
    Narrative structure
    Summary of information elements
    Dialogue transcription
  3. Information and representation
    Communicative potential
    Dystopian world
    Human degeneration and cannibalism
    Moral sense of humanity
    Tragic past
    Death of the father
    Open ending
  4. The transmedia potential
    Question as information element
    Strategic comparison
    Additional or alternative sequences of the novel
    Deleted scenes from the film story
    Visual structure (shots)
  5. Conclusions
    Requirements and creative potential
    Hypotheses and perspectives
    Project and market
    Immersion technical tests

1. Introduction

1.1. The realism of dystopia

Based on the novel written by Cormac McCarthy and published in 2006[1], The Road (2009)[2] is directed by Australian director John Hillcoat[3] and adapted in film version by British screenwriter Joe Penhall.

The story focuses on the journey of a man and a child (both of whom are kept unnamed), headed on foot towards the southern coast of the United States carrying only a cart of few supplies, in a desperate attempt to survive a prohibitive climate and in an uninhabited and dangerous territory.

“It’s a journey. It’s a kind of parable. I think it’s also a morality tale, but primarily, for me, it’s a love story between a father and a son.”[4]

The tragic vision imagined in McCarthy and in Hillcoat (with the important visual contribution of Javier Aguirresarobe, and scenographic by Chris Kennedy) returns a totally devastated world (described without revealing the exact causal reason[5]), deteriorated in a hostile ecosystem where humanity is divided between desperate refugees and armed cannibal gangs.

The common and predominant science fiction domain with a strong futuristic component (with advanced technology, spaceships, androids, planets and aliens, mutants, monsters, or subjects with extraordinary powers) has been abandoned, and apocalyptic science fiction with a prehistoric or retro-futuristic theme is also declined. The dystopian scenario is a universal humanitarian crisis with gloomy realism and profound emotion: dramatic survival journey but also intimate love story, spiritual research and model of scientific simulation, the story is part of its own, atypical semantic space, oriented to combine narrative minimalism, extreme realism and phenomenal mimesis.

This realistic simulation condition is calibrated on three main design features:

  • Technological limitation
    The technological context is based on analog tools and limited resources (food, clothes, drugs, ammunition, fuel).
  • Biological and phenomenal realism
    Physical conditions (thinness, fatigue, injury, illness, dirt) and psychological conditions (disturbances, sensory abilities[6], logic of the emotional reactions and behaviours of the subjects), and phenomenal conditions (climatic, anthropological, topographical aspects[7]) they are represented with a high level of realism.
  • Causal realism
    The origin of the fictional world is likely and does not include the explication of viral epidemics, radioactive contaminations, totalitarian regimes, mutant creatures, aliens or with paranormal faculties, but it is indirectly and partially revealed through personal (father’s) memories and environmental clues.

1.1.1. Heroes and monsters
A scenario of violence and cruelty, the dystopian world of The Road presents primordial natural balances where the survival instinct replaces the usual conditions of civil coexistence: moral degradation and the precarious life-death binomial find expression in an ecosystem now involved in the prey relationship-predator, degraded to the instinctive and brutal interactions of the animal kingdom.

In this dramatic context, three main human conditions emerge:

  • Benevolent subjects
    Survivors determined not to commit crimes to survive (ex: father and son, prisoners at home, killed fugitives, family on the beach).
  • Neutral subjects
    Men related to a violent past (ex: old man, thief, veteran); survivors prone to violent acts (refugees with bow[8]).
  • Evil subjects
    Gangs of armed men openly hostile in search of survivors for the purpose of murder, rape or imprisonment (ex: van gang, house cannibals, forest raiders).

The interaction between environment and subjects therefore defines a dualistic balance consisting of positive forces (associated with the father and the child[9]) and negative forces (represented by the criminals) in which the horrifying component amplifies ancestral atrocities and fears (violent death, suffering , imprisonment, rape and others) but above all, by opposition, it elevates the founding values ​​of humanity (intelligence, love, piety, solidarity, coexistence, dialogue, and other feelings of equity and respect) to spiritual duty, lovingly handed down from father to son through the metaphor of inner fire.

“We have to watch out for the bad guys. We have to just keep carrying the fire. What fire? The fire inside you. […] Because we’re the good guys.”[10]

The conflicting bipartition born between benevolent subjects (bearers of fire, light, heat, protection and positive human values[11]) and evil subjects (specularly devoted to dark, harmful and destructive forces) is comparable to a metaphorical struggle between good and evil (a peaceful and community humanity against a cruel humanity condemned to devour and die out) in which the single survival experience suffered by father and son becomes the symbolic manifestation of a superior cosmic conflict (creation-destruction) and religious (light/genesis- darkness/death) between predestination (child), sacrifice (father) and the future of all humanity.

2. Analysis

Visual structure and information management

2.1. Visual translation

The film adaptation of a literary work requires a particular functional conversion process, in which the narrative potential of the text is interpreted to respond to the specific visual representation methods of the film project. This interpretative process implies an arbitrary degree of license on the original material, variable on the basis of subjective design choices or dictated by logistical needs.

In the case of The Road, the screenplay developed by Joe Penhall[12] is based on three main editorial criteria:

  • Elimination of informative material
    The voluntary omission of information to be represented in the film story, decided on the basis of logical, aesthetic and production reasons.
  • Chronological change or contraction
    The series of events in the story presents an altered chronological order
    or the union of originally distinct events.
  • Situational modification
    The actions performed by the subjects are modified or unpublished.

The combination of original narrative elements (dialogues and descriptions faithfully reproduced from the novel) and unpublished interventions (chronological, spatial and causal variations) determines a particular relationship of media intertextuality between the book and the film story, connected on an experiential level by shared information elements.

2.1.1. The communicative architecture
In order to study the communicative properties of the film transposition of The Road it is important to analyze the structure of the film project, evaluating aspects of information management and visual representation.

The study of the material includes:

  • Narrative structure
    A synthetic and schematic view of the fundamental information elements of the story (divided in order of development, themes, description and temporal position) combined with a legend and a complementary chromatic system.
  • Summary of information elements
    General references to identify the distinctive characteristics of the film project: fictional world, characters, keywords, narrative structure and iconographic references.
  • Dialogue transcription
    All the dialogues in English and in Italian organized by reporting the chronological order of the film sequences.
  • Quotes
    A selection of particularly significant dialogues taken from the film story.
  • Visual structure
    All the shots useful to describe the narrative and figurative development of the story, including legend and time index.

2.2. Narrative Structure

2.3. Summary of information elements

2.3.4. Summary of information elements (in-depth)

2.4. Dialogue transcription

3. Information and representation

Cardinal elements of the narrative

3.1. The communicative potential

In a cinematographic narrative, by simplifying the discourse on elementary conditions, the interaction between the textual component (verbal language) and the visual component (image) determines the information balance and understanding of a representation. The study of this balance allows to examine the fundamental communicative units of a story, identifying themes, cardinal elements and figurative aspects.

Applied to The Road, the operation allows you to dissect the composition of the story and analyze the design choices made both in the narrative field (adapting the novel in cinematographic form)[13] and iconographic (conceiving the images and their figurative value) by breaking down the entire communicative architecture into a series of fundamental information elements.

In summary, seven primary topics are listed:

  • The dystopian world
    The geophysical characteristics, the chronological and spatial coordinates of the fictional world.
  • Travel
    The path, motivations and conditions of the journey undertaken by the protagonists.
  • Human degeneration and cannibalism
    The anthropological context of the world and, in particular, the profile of the antagonistic subjects.
  • The moral sense of humanity
    Interpersonal relationships between father and son
    and the concept of inner fire as a metaphor for positive values.
  • The tragic past
    The catastrophic background and the biographical notes of the father and wife before and after the crisis.
  • The death of the father
    The sacrifice of the parent and the salvation of the child.
  • The open ending
    The son welcomed by a new adopted family of survivors.

The material produced includes a set of resources that are particularly useful both for purposes of comparative study, establishing design affinities with other internal products for intellectual or even rival property (literary, film or video games[14]), and for formulating a synthetic preliminary research in provision of a transmedia rewrite of The Road, which can be carried out by reviewing the entire information system of the project with the aim of finding unprecedented areas for intervention.

The following pages explore all the items listed by attaching specific visual references.

3.2. The dystopian world

A key element in defining the apocalyptic themed world of The Road is a sudden catastrophic event that occurred in the past[15]. The exact cause of the disaster is never explicitly revealed, but the testimony of the father
and the visible environmental consequences seem to allude to a devastating natural cataclysm, then combined with other crisis factors (water, energy, food, chemical, nuclear, etc.). By indicatively reconstructing the travel itinerary decided by the father, the affected geographical area (in addition to the declared effects at world level) mainly affects central and southern United States of America, and in particular the area between the internal Mississippi and Texas coastal[16], the final destination of the two travelers.

3.2.1. The catastrophe
After the catastrophe, the world has undergone dramatic and radical climate changes, transforming itself into an extreme and hostile environment.

The dominant environmental and phenomenal conditions include:

  • The prohibitive ecological imbalance has extinguished animal species and worn out crops, drastically reducing the availability of food and the number of living organisms.
  • The almost total absence of sunlight has caused constant clouds, precipitation and a cold climate.
  • Intense seismic phenomena have altered the landscape and destroyed roads and inhabited centres.
  • Violent spontaneous fires incinerate the vegetation and devastate the territory by polluting the air and water[17].

3.3. Travel

After leaving the original house after the suicide of his wife and the uncontrollable cold, father and son begin a journey on foot towards the southern coast in the hope of finding better climatic conditions.[18]

3.3.1. Survival
Refugees in a devastated world, father and son try to fight hunger and cold by moving towards the sea. In short, the experience of their journey includes:

  • Transit through multiple environments: mountainous areas, wooded and snowy areas, stretches of plains, urban centres and finally the sea coast.
  • Inspection of abandoned places (gas station, farm, shopping center, houses, cities, underground shelter, ship wreck etc.)
  • Stops and moments of refreshment during the journey (cave, plain, forest, truck, ruined church, amusement park[19], beach).
  • The constant search for resources and supplies, carried with two backpacks and a supermarket trolley full of bags and containers.
  • A U.S. map hand-numbered by the father for orientation, and binoculars.
  • A pistol with two bullets to commit suicide in case of capture or serious injury.
  • Dangerous situations caused by natural phenomena (a fire and an earthquake) or by hostile subjects (cannibals and armed refugees).
  • The encounter with two survivors (the old man and the thief) and other dangerous situations expose the father and son to react by making conflicting moral choices.

3.3.2. Salvation
Life threatened by inspecting a house inhabited by cannibals, father and son manage to escape and continue their journey in desperate search for food. Just when the situation becomes critical, in the garden of an abandoned house the man accidentally discovers a metal trap door above an underground warehouse still full of provisions.

The discovery of the shelter determines:

  • The discovery of still edible food reserves, water supplies and linen.
  • Protection from bad weather, cold, earthquakes, fires and possible enemy sightings.
  • The availability of fuel, comfortable beds and the possibility of cooking food with a stove.
  • Better hygiene conditions: the man and the child manage to wash themselves using heated water, soap and then wearing clean clothes.
  • Sharing an intimate and positive experience between father and son in a safe place.
The underground shelter

3.3.3. The death
The journey is constantly linked to an emotional balance focused on misery, terror and survival instinct. After the catastrophe, the disappearance of animals and crops, the collapse of nations, and the crimes perpetrated among humanity, the result is an existential dystopia marked by destruction and crime, where death has become a founding element of the new world:

  • Fire, earthquakes, the absence of sunlight and ash made the environment sterile and provoked disasters, famines and conflicts.
  • Cannibals see death as the logical answer to survive: fear and murder regulate social interactions between men.
  • The death of the father ends the deadly cycle of a world now destroyed, perhaps anticipating a slow phase of rebirth of a new humanity, risen in solidarity from the ashes of the past [20].

3.4. Human degeneration and cannibalism

Finding a macabre justification after the catastrophe between hunger and despair inside fragile and deviant minds, cannibalism emerged as a tragic distinctive phenomenon of human groups devoted to surviving by subverting any code of ethics: in a cruel, now desolate and lawless world, gangs of armed men patrolling roads and woods relentlessly in search of refugees and survivors to be robbed, imprisoned and killed.

3.4.1. Cannibals in transit
Driving a large worn van without a license plate, the gang of cannibals goes up a dark tunnel, stopping, due to a mechanical breakdown, in the street, right near where the father and the child hid upon hearing the vehicle arrive. The gang is made up of twelve men (the driver’s cabin seems to have only one driver), armed with clubs, axes and hunting rifles equipped with optics[21]; one of them has an amputated leg.[22]

After the father shoots and kills one of the criminals, saving the child’s life [23], the two are forced to flee immediately and hide in the woods, hunted by cannibals all night. The cart of their supplies, abandoned on the road during the escape, is then ransacked, leaving father and son without food reserves.

3.4.2. Cannibals of the house
Left without provisions, the father and the child decide to inspect an apparently abandoned villa. Inside, in the general disorder, various types of luggage are visible, a telescope mounted on a tripod in front of the window with a bell connected, a static bike, a trolley and dozens of shoes piled up in a pile. [24]

In the kitchen, dirty dishes and pots fill the sink. Found and forced to a trap door closed with a padlock, the father and the child discover an underground cellar used as a prison, with various people detained by the owners as a source of food.[25] When it returns, the group of cannibals is made up of six people: four men and two women. [26] The visible weapons available to them include a rifle and a shotgun.

3.4.3. Cannibals of the woods
While passing through a wooded area, the father accidentally discovers a hypothetical human settlement consisting of at least four small wooden houses, all built a short distance away. Not far away, eight human skulls are impaled with sticks, while other skulls are positioned at the base of a tree, probably to signal entry into hostile territory [27].

Going further, a large pool of blood in the snow, with different footprints, testifies to a violent scuffle and anticipates the arrival of a group of men intent on chasing a young woman and a child[28], then surrounded and brutally killed.

Cannibals in transit (on the road)
Cannibals of the house
The cellar hatch — Men and women are imprisoned and maimed by cannibal owners to obtain food supplies. A desperate attempt to revolt by the prisoners distracts the bandits and allows the father and son to flee the house by hiding outside, waiting for the night before getting back on the road.
The cannibals of the woods chasing a woman and a child.

3.5. The moral sense of humanity

In a world now devoted to extreme cruelty, father and son repudiate unjustified violence by finding comfort in an intense mutual love, and in a simple, but profound spiritual vision.

3.5.1. The inner fire
After the first traumatic encounter with the cannibals of the van, the father introduces the concept of inner fire to his son: an imaginary flame inside the body that distinguishes good from evil.

The concept of fire implies multiple reflections:

  • The image of the flame recalls one of the four universal elements identified in the philosophical thought of ancient Greece, considered the divine matter of which the human spirit and the cosmos are composed.
  • The Vestal Virgins, virgin priestesses of ancient Rome, were employed in the cult of the goddess Vesta and in the custody of the sacred fire, a metaphor for the family and the state.
  • In a dark and cold world, fire (excluding the negative incendiary and deadly connotation) represents light, heat, security, human presence; a resource and an activator of rest, healing and positive sensations.
  • Using fire as a metaphorical reference, the father manages to make an abstract concept concrete, converting the spiritual discourse (moral conscience) into a material element[29], (fire) and being able to speak with his son, born after the catastrophe , of the founding values ​​and of a moral sense of a now disappeared civilization.
  • The father considers the son a divine creature: innocent, sincere and supportive the child is identified, from a Christian religious perspective,
    like a bearer of light, that is, an angel, a messenger of the word of God sent to protect humanity after it has fallen into decline.

3.5.2. The old man
After leaving the underground warehouse for security reasons after suspicious night noises, the father and the child meet an elderly refugee on the street. The insistence of the child persuades the father to give the old man a can of food which, however, the man, exhausted, regurgitates almost immediately. Invited by his father to join them for dinner, the old man introduces himself by the name of Ely and, continuing along the way, he is affectionately taken by the hand of the boy, immediately reprimanded by his father.

In the evening, gathered around the fire with the sleeping child, the old man and the father begin a conversation:[30]

  • The old man says he is almost blind, but the condition turns out to be a partial falsehood when the father draws the gun for intimidating purposes.
  • The old man reveals that he believed he died just when he saw the boy on the street, considering him an angel.
  • The old man had a son, who died in unknown circumstances, and perhaps suspicious.[31]
  • The father claims to consider the child as an angel, as a god.
  • The old man recalls that the catastrophe was anticipated by some signs: indications that he has always believed to be premonitory of the end of the world.[32]
  • The old man manifests atheistic beliefs, hypothesizing the absence of god and condemning all humanity because it has become inhuman.

The next day the old man starts traveling alone. When the child, watching Ely go away, reproaches the father for having practically abandoned him to certain death, the man motivates his choice by reminding the son of the limited availability of their food reserves.

The old man (Ely).

3.5.3. The thief
Robbed of all supplies in a moment of distraction, father and son manage to track down the thief fleeing along the coast with their trolley. When he sees his father approaching, the man stops, ready to fight armed with a knife:

  • Initially hostile, the thief (an African American) leaves the knife and gives up. The hands have both thumbs amputated.[33]
  • The child repeatedly begs the father not to kill the man, who is spared.
  • The thief admits that he was robbed because he was hungry and points out to the father that he did not harm the child at the time of the theft.
  • The cart is requisitioned, the father obliges the thief to undress, leaving him completely naked.
  • Displeased by the father’s behaviour, the boy convinces him to go back to leave clothes and a can of food for the thief, but the man is absent, disappeared in the dunes.
The thief

3.5.4. Armed survivors
Hit with an arrow in an ambush, the father manages to shoot with the flare gun towards a window and to hit the archer. Despite the injury, the father decides to break into the building:

  • He finds an African American on the ground, dead, with the rocket exploded in his chest while holding the bow to strike again. Next to the body, a distraught woman is interrogated by the father, accused of stalking them. The woman insults him and motivates the attack by specularly accusing the man of having followed them first.

The clash shows how despair and instinctive violence tragically prevailed over the concepts of trust and compassion, of dialogue and reason, condemning the father and the survivors to a delusional conflict of paranoia and lack of communication, destined to end between remorse and death.

The ambush of the refugees armed with a bow.

3.6. A tragic past

Tormented by the past and depressed in the present, the father relives in dreams the moments of happiness lived with his wife, now lost forever after the catastrophe and the suicide of the woman. [34]

3.6.1. The wife
The personal history of the wife can be described considering two temporal coordinates: the period before the catastrophe, and the following period.

In memories prior to the catastrophe:

  • Man and woman have a peaceful life of love and well-being. They are represented in the garden of their home during the spring season among flowering plants. The man in shirt strokes horses in a meadow[35]
    The external lamp is also lit during the day.
  • The man and the woman, in elegant clothes, attend a classical music concert.[36] Her husband strokes her leg until he massages her sex, while she smiles silently towards the stage.
  • The woman plays a refrain with the man on the piano and then their hands touch. The man wears the usual chromed watch.
  • The man and the woman contemplate each other on the bed; next to them a television. Outside in the garden, a large hammock swings in the sun with a straw hat on it, two magazines and a green towel. Nearby, a steel grill for cooking.[37]
  • Stopping in the car by the sea during the sunrise, the man gently wakes his sleeping wife in the front seat. [38]

In the series of memories following the catastrophe:

  • In one night the world changes forever:[39] awakened by the flashes caused by the cataclysm, man rushes to the bathroom to collect water reserves. Electricity is already absent. The wife is pregnant. Outside, people scream.
  • Depressed, his wife looks out the window sitting on the piano.[40] Outside, the strong wind carries the smoke from the burning hills. At home, candles, canned food, batteries, water tanks, and scattered objects testify to the dramatic conditions of survival. Intent on eating beans prepared by her husband, the woman suddenly manifests the breaking of the waters from the placenta. Initially agitated and opposed to giving birth for pessimistic reasons, the wife is finally convinced and assisted by the man, and in the night, between screams of pain and despair, the baby is born.
  • The increase in the cold and the lack of fuel force the man to destroy the piano with an ax to obtain firewood. The wife assists resignedly with her young son (3–4 years of age) in her arms.
  • With only two bullets left, the wife scolds her husband and expresses her intention to commit suicide with her son to avoid being caught, raped and killed by cannibals. While the parents are arguing, the child (now 9–10 years old) draws crayons on the wall.[41] Aware of not being able to convince her husband, the woman returns the gun and moves to wash the hair of the boy, now completely apathetic towards the affectionate gaze of his son. Still, standing by the door, the father watches them from behind and then walks away.
  • One night, now exhausted and determined to commit suicide, the woman strips off her jacket and hat and before abandoning the man and the child (without greeting him personally) suggests to move southward within the next winter. Despite her husband’s plea to stay, the woman leaves the house and disappears into the surrounding darkness.
a) The time of serenity + b) The night of the catastrophe
a) The classical music concert + b) The time of serenity + c) The piano + d) The sweet awakening
a) The decline + b) The birth of the child (childbirth)
The history of bullets
a) The destruction of the piano + b) The suicide of the wife (farewell)

3.7. The death of the father

Lung disease and leg injury force the man to stop the journey and stop with the child to rest.

3.7.1. The end as the beginning
Abandoned the cart in the street after a severe coughing attack with hemorrhagic secretions, father and son move on foot to the beach. Dreaming of his wife asleep in a car by the sea, the man wakes up lying on his back on the sand, with the boy tenderly smiling beside him. During the night the father’s health conditions worsen and the son, silently in front of the fire, begins to understand the seriousness of the situation. The next day the man confesses to the child that he is dying and invites him to continue the journey alone, moving south as they have always done, and to bring fire looking for other survivors. Despite the tragic condition, the man realizes that he is unable to put an end to the life of the child and gives the son the pistol, which has remained loaded with a single bullet. In the night, while the child sleeps, the father turns one last look at the sky and dies.
The next morning, the boy mourns his father and watches over the body by the fire for a whole day, then covering it with a blanket before leaving again.

Here are some simple observations:

  • As the child’s natural protector and custodian, the father is now protected and cared for by his son.
  • The father chooses not to kill the son, considered sacred, and heralds his salvation. [42]
  • The death of the father is part of the deadly cycle of the past world, while the child, welcomed into a new family, is destined to live a potentially positive future. [43]
The death of the father

3.8. The open ending

After the father dies, the son walks to the beach. The sudden appearance of an armed stranger creates an immediate dangerous situation.

3.8.1. A new family
Having left the father’s body and recovered binoculars, pistol and his backpack, the boy returns to the shore to contemplate the sea and the fog. Suddenly, in the distance, the barking of a dog is heard and, almost simultaneously, a man is approaching rapidly[44].
Frightened, the boy immediately draws the gun aiming at the stranger to keep him at a safe distance: the man has a hostile appearance, is armed with a rifle and has his left thumb amputated.[45] The stranger then stops, asks the father’s child, and then invites him to continue the journey together. Fearing to speak with a cannibal, the boy questions the man to evaluate his intentions. When the child declares to have a wife and children and to bring fire, the child decides to trust and join them.

Finally said farewell to the father, the child is finally welcomed by the new family of travelers: the veteran, a woman, two children (older brother[46] and sister) and a small dog.[47] The woman in particular addresses the child with reassuring words of affection.

Some considerations arise:

  • The armed man increases the offensive, defensive potential and the general survival skills of the family group.
  • The woman satisfies the child’s desire to find a mother figure of reference.
    Accustomed to coexisting between adults, the child interacts for the first time with other children.
  • The future procreative possibilities of the veteran child and daughter are favoured by their genetic diversification.
  • The existence of a peaceful human group makes plausible the existence of other survivors with whom to create supportive communities.
a) The man on the beach (veteran) + b) The new family

4. The transmedia potential

Questions and hypothetical development stimuli

4.1. The question as an information element
The limited amount of information available on the world of The Road (revealed only through the dramatic travel experience of the protagonists) favors the emergence of numerous questions related to the film narrative: from the catastrophic event to the biographical background of the father and wife, from previous places of travel to the future of the child, the questions stimulate the viewer to broaden the narrative context of the individual cinematic vision, imagining personalized scenarios or performing complementary research operations recovering the original text.

The strategic omission of information material, whether voluntarily sought by the creators or resulting from a combination of random factors, can configure the question as a potential element of information: the presence of specific questions without immediate response in fact stimulates recursive reflections, and encourages spectator to carry out an imaginary expansion process of the fictional world (altering and combining spaces, times, plots, subjects) with the curiosity to establish connections of a transmedia nature between multiple products (when specifically provided) or to establish deep ones in a limited number (as in the case of the cinematographic and literary relationship valid in The Road).

The systematic management of the question therefore makes it possible to accurately evaluate the quantity and quality of information accessible in a given project, thus keeping a complementary narrative potential invisible and intact (all information omitted or revealed only in implicit form) available to create any transmedia derivations and answer, in different media channels, to the questions that remained unresolved.

For example purposes, we consider the following reasoning:

  • We identify the totality of the film narrative with the circle A (the specific form is chosen as an arbitrary symbol that can be associated with the concept of linearity and cyclical development of narration in a limited and sequential time interval).
  • The coloured segments represent the development of the story and the totality of the information represented in it, either explicitly, implicitly or arbitrarily deduced.
  • The absent segments (replaced with white spaces) indicate the omission of information, and the potential occurrence of questions regarding specific stage intervals.
  • The same reasoning is applicable to the original literary text, represented with the circle B and the relative white spaces.
  • We note how the position of the colored segments (known information) and the relative absent segments (omissions and related questions) between the film story and the original text (gray circle and yellow circle) present different traits and spaces, but visually complementary and intersectable.
  • By superimposing the two segmented figures, a closed circular figure emerges, a circle C obtained by combining the filmic and literary information, now coexisting in a single complementary information system. The complementary relationship of the two experiences (cinematographic and literary) extends and completes the total amount of information available and activates a basic transmedia interaction between the stories, restoring an increased knowledge.
  • By imagining an advanced transmedia information system, the presence of diversified narratives (film and literary stories, television series, video games, comics, computer domains, theatrical performances and music videos) involves the multiple intersection of information elements with variable complementarity (e.g. a system composed of diversified geometric shapes intersected with other sets of figures, in turn joined with other elements) designed to constitute particularly sophisticated and long-lived systems gradually building the entire information architecture of an intellectual property.[48]

“A work needs to combine radical intertextuality and multimodality for the purposes of additive comprehension to be a transmedia story.”[49]

4.2. Strategic comparison

In order to better understand what they have been the managerial and editorial choices adopted in the film adaptation process of The Road, and to evaluate what the possible intertextual complementarity relationship shared between the film story and the original literary source, a series of comparative tables has been developed. [50]

The proposed table model consists of four analysis items:

  • Object
    The phenomenon, the subject or the condition considered as information elements.
  • Film story
    The information represented in the film.
  • Book
    The information in the novel.
  • Transmedia question
    Clues, questions and preliminary stimuli useful for a hypothetical transmedia development.
Note: where inserted, the asterisk (*) is used in a single column to avoid repetition of a common information element.

4.3. Additional or alternative sequences of the novel

Note: the number of items reported is not to be considered definitive, but the result of an arbitrary selection.

4.4. Deleted scenes (from the film)

Note: the scenes shown are visible in the special contents included with the film product.


  • Night of the catastrophe (collection of water reserves)
    What’s happening? Why are you taking a bath?
    I’m not.
  • Memory of the catastrophe (fictional world condition)
    The clocks stopped at 1:17. There was a long shear of bright light. Then a series of low concussions. I think it’s October, but I can’t be sure. I haven’t kept a calendar for years. Each day is more gray than the one before. It is cold and growing colder as the world slowly dies. No animals have survived, and all the crops are long gone. Soon all the trees in the world will fall. [...] There has been cannibalism. Cannibalism is the great fear.
  • Father
    All I know is the child is my warrant, and if he is not the word of God, then God never spoke. [...] When it comes to the boy, I have only one question.
    Can you do it when the time comes?
  • The farm (hanged bodies)
    It’s not what you think. They committed suicide.
    You know why.
  • Father (suicide instructions)
    Two left. One for you, one for me. You put it in your mouth and you point it up, just like I showed you. Hmm? Like this.
  • Father (oath to son)
    I’ll take care of you.
    And I’ll kill anyone who touches you, because that’s my job.
  • Wife (history of bullets)
    They’re gonna rape me, and then they’re gonna rape your son
    and they’re gonna kill us and eat us.
  • Child
    I wish I was with my mom.
    You mean you wish you were dead?
  • Father
    When I have nothing else, I try to dream the dreams of a child’s imaginings.
    [...] Every day is a lie, but I am slowly dying. That is not a lie.
  • Father
    When you dream about bad things happening, it shows you’re still fighting. You’re still alive. It’s when you start to dream about good things that you should start to worry.
  • Father and son (inner fire)
    We have to watch out for the bad guys. We have to just keep carrying the fire.
    What fire?
    The fire inside you.
    […] Are we still the good guys?
    Yes, we’re still the good guys. Of course we are.
    And we always will be? No matter what happens?
    Always will be.
  • Child (moral awareness)
    We would never eat anybody, would we?
    No, of course not. [...]
    Because we’re the good guys. And we’re carrying the fire.
  • Father (wife’s suicide memory)
    She was gone, and the coldness of it was her final gift.
    But she died somewhere in the dark. There is no other tale to tell.
  • Father (memory)
    If I were God, I would’ve made the world just so, and no different.
    And so I have you. I have you.
  • Father (noises over the underground shelter)
    If it’s a dog, it’ll be with someone.
  • Ely (conversation with the father)
    When I saw that boy, I thought I’d died and he... He was an angel.
    He is an angel. To me, he’s a god. [...] Do you ever wish you would die?
    It’s foolish to ask for luxuries in times like these.
  • Old Man
    If there is a God up there, he would have turned his back on us by now. And whoever made humanity will find no humanity here.
  • Child
    Yeah, well, you always say, “Watch out for bad guys.”
    That old man wasn’t a bad guy. You can’t even tell anymore.
  • On the beach (looking at the sea)
    What’s on the other side?
    There has to be something.
    Maybe there’s a father and his little boy, and they’re sitting on a beach, too.
  • Son (on the beach)
    What would you do if I died?
    If you died, I’d want to die, too. So you could be with me? Yeah, so I could be with you.

4.6 Visual structure

5. Conclusions

Dystopian visions and commercial scenarios

5.1. Requirements and creative potential
Imaginative and interdisciplinary, the science fiction domain includes innumerable semantic categories: between space explorations and biopolitical dystopias, retrofuturistic uchronies and nihilistic visions, up to artificial thinking systems and transhumanist myths, the media productions ascribable to the genre constitute a practically inexhaustible source of study.

By reconsidering the topics examined in The Road, the information architecture of a fictional world, as well as the structure of a creative universe with a common semantic domain, is defined through the use of specific generative coordinates, studied in relation to a series of subordinate components and combined with some cardinal variables (epoch, climate, spaces, surface, population, technology, environmental balances, resources, linguistic codes, geopolitical factors, religions, flora and fauna, divinities etc.), up to constituting the precious creative and creative potential of an intellectual property, capable of generating multiple internal worlds with the related diversified and interdependent narratives.

“A good “world” can sustain multiple characters (and their stories) and thus successfully launch a transmedia franchise.”[51]

In the case of entertainment products conceived with a transmedia predisposition, the creation of an expandable and functional narrative structure must respond to a series of training principles.

With reference to the issues identified in The Road, and limiting ourselves to the priority requirements, we indicate:

  • Complex world
    The choice of an extended territory (or the detailed use of a limited environment[52]) broadens the directions of narrative development,
    both spatially (exploring unknown places and geographical areas) and chronologically (probing past, future or simultaneous time intervals) offering the possibility of generating historical scenarios, anthropological groups and geographical regions in an almost unlimited perspective.
  • Multiple environments
    The conformation of an extended fictional world includes multiple environmental contexts (e.g. mountain, plain, sea, river, forest, swamp, underground cavities, urban areas) and spatial contexts (e.g. car, home, prison, hospital, military base, railway station , port, mine) contemplating a plurality of climatic and phenomenal conditions. The inclusion of a valid degree of environmental variation allows to diversify the stylistic modalities of the story (visual, scenographic, sound, interactional), to represent heterogeneous situations and moments (e.g. exploration, stop, encounter, defense, pursuit, observation, rescue , prayer, investigation, flight) and to establish correspondences (explicit, allusions, transmedia) between places and spaces, events and subjects, meanings and plots, returning an expanded perception of the imaginary world.
  • Shared heroism
    The protagonists and the subjects involved share a personal bond (parental, friendship, sentimental, ideological, situational) or a common existential condition (prisoner, soldier, fugitive, traitor, executioner, faithful, victim, rebel, investigator): the experience lived by characters likely simulates moods, psychological profiles and human reactions by intensifying the emotional value of the story and stimulating moral judgments and empathic identification mechanisms.
  • Solution journey
    Achieving a final goal (for purposes of survival, redemption, truth, sacrifice, justice) includes the crossing of geographical locations and the occurrence of unexpected situations: useful opportunities to reveal basic information elements of the fictional world (historical, environmental, technological, economic, linguistic aspects) and to introduce new characters along the way (allies, neutrals, antagonists) causing unexpected events, deviations, conflicts, bereavements, revelations and hereditary tasks.
  • Diverse human groups
    Each existing subject (human, animal, plant, robotic, alien, paranormal) is the bearer of existential information (biological and geographical origin, identity, function, ability, cultural knowledge) useful for understanding the anthropological context[53] (interpersonal relationships, ideology politics, religion, economic and linguistic aspects) and the related environmental implications (e.g. contaminated areas, urban areas, laboratories, energy reserves, unknown peoples and armaments) interpreting a series of information elements that may be re-used to support collateral narrative variations, and publishable in in-depth materials.
  • Future legacy
    The epilogue determines a future change in the fictional world (e.g. a period of peace, a medical therapy, an unexpected truth, the continuation of a journey, a request for help, personal justice, a new threat) by projecting the narrative towards scenarios alternatives, collateral events or independent developments, sometimes linked to the operational role of a hereditary subject (e.g. child, friend, brother, woman, pupil, fellow soldier, authority, survivor, unknown), suggesting the existence of various sustainable prosecutions.
  • Unresolved questions
    Once primary information functional to the main narrative development has been revealed, numerous secondary questions are systematically omitted through specific strategies of concealment and information disorientation: the presence of time gaps, illusory clues, interpretative ambiguities and recursive mysteries[54] keeps intellectual property prolific while preserving its deep truths (recyclable in collateral stories) and stimulates the user to search for information, to visit domains and social platforms, to comment, examine and consult all promotional materials, cyclically fueling commercial expectations
    in view of further projects, carefully calibrated on the basis of the outstanding questions.

It is then possible to identify a further series of important subordinate properties:

  • Generative catastrophe
    A natural event, an artificial act (carried out by humans, animals, plants, microbials, robots, aliens) or a combination of mixed phenomena determines a negative global change: environmental upheavals (cataclysms, desertification, flood), health (pollution, pandemics , infertility, mutations), technological (accidents, experiments, malfunctions) and cultural (crime, conflict, poverty, migration, authoritarianism) definitively compromise ordinary living conditions throughout the planet (or in a prevalent part[55]) and cause the adoption of alternative or extreme survival methods.
  • Civil crisis
    Legal status (legislative regulations, individual law, international protection, private property), economic system (currency, raw materials, financial market, food resources, fuel, energy sources) and geopolitical scenario (immigration, national borders, government institutions, defensive capabilities, international conventions, military apparatus) undergo radical alterations (totalitarianisms, deportations, invasions, inflation) irremediably redefining the world social order.
  • Extreme or prehistoric degeneration
    Catastrophic phenomena have completely changed the planet’s geophysical conditions. Humanity has become involved in anarchist or tribal social systems, returning to a primitive and brutal anthropological dimension based on primordial instincts. High mortality, disease, bartering, illiteracy, slavery, limited resources, fundamentalisms, moral deviations, cannibalism, analog technology, narrow demographic groups and hostile environments (deserts, oceans, swamps, snow) or contaminated delineate a world now almost totally unrecoverable.
  • Priority survey
    The protagonist is determined to modify a condition of the fictional world (a habitual, episodic or extraordinary state) or to verify its origin, position, function and those responsible. The investigative action is motivated by personal wishes and principles, moral choices, imposed orders or legal duties, religious faith, health conditions, uncontrollable events (weather, random meetings, technical unexpected events, linguistic misunderstandings, dreamlike visions), and may involve subjects allies (supporters), neutral (variables) and antagonists (opponents) up to establishing a final truth of a personal or collective order.
  • Salvation of humanity
    The mission undertaken by the protagonist has the existential goal of protecting personal survival, of supporting an ideology or religious doctrine, of protecting the civilization of belonging or a discriminated one, of avoiding a conflict or catastrophe, managing to radically alter the foundational balance of the imaginary world prospecting positive aspects (unity, peace, progress, food, salvation, justice, freedom, healing, ecology, solidarity, alliances) rewriting the fate of a subject, a people or an entire species.

Expanding the theoretical study perspectives to real executive scenarios, the structural requirements observed in The Road are common to numerous science fiction entertainment products with dystopian elements with an apocalyptic and survival component. We therefore propose, below, a heterogeneous and synthetic commercial exploration dedicated to 24 projects (17 films; 7 video games), freely selected with the aim of underlining their common narrative and iconographic affinities.

Book of Eli, Brink, The Last of Us, Tom Clancy’s The Division.
Blade Runner, Waterworld, Snowpiercer, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The Postman, Reign of Fire, I Am Legend, Fallout 4
12 Monkeys, V for Vendetta, Children of Men, Metro 2033
A Boy and His Dog, Rage, Mad Max: Fury Road, Horizon Zero Dawn
Escape From New York, Cloverfield, Oblivion, Automata

5.2. Hypotheses and perspectives

Realistic and cruel, the dystopia imagined by McCarthy and Hillcoat in The Road still maintains an immense inventive power active and fertile: in a world full of human tragedies, the adventure of father and son represents only one of the many stories still available for narrative.[56]
To explore the offer of alternative scenarios, the modification of the generative coordinates of the fictional world (geographical, historical, economic, anthropological and technological aspects) allows to radically redefine the design limits and broaden all the executive hypotheses of an intellectual property by reworking the pre-existing materials.[57]

The structural remodeling process facilitates the creation of unlimited combination complementary stories (adaptable in literary, comic, cinematographic, television, videogame, theatrical and musical form[58])
by configuring a network of distinct commercial products, but interconnected, and referable to a the only original transmedia universe.

By imagining a preliminary study applied to The Road, we proceeded to identify the fundamental characteristics to prepare the project for a hypothetical transmedia configuration, foreseeing a world based on an articulated, recursive information architecture conceived to host, expand and concatenate chronologies, places, subjects and plots in a dynamic and complex narrative ecosystem, expandable and modular. Given the infinite number of questions, answers and interpretations associated with the film narrative, the list drawn up is obviously synthetic, partial and personal: an embryonic proposal of analysis, open to future modifications, additions and additional reworkings.

5.2.1. Extended world
When catastrophe condemned humanity to an era of violence, the world degenerated into a primitive condition dominated by death and survival instinct. Seismic phenomena and perennial fires have devastated entire nations, generated migration, dissolved borders and government institutions, upset geopolitical balances and cultural identities leaving the planet and human civilization in a ruinous decline.

The world review of The Road must include:

  • Explorable territories
    The visual representation of the tragic journey experienced by father and son describes only a limited fraction of the vast American territory available, precisely the area between the snowy mountain areas (known departure) and the southern sea coast (arrival). Therefore, immense and unexplored geographic areas such as the entire US area (between California and Alaska), Central and South America (Mexican border, Cuba and other islands, tropical forests) remain omitted, and therefore available for collateral design elaborations ), up to the distant and unknown European continent[59], all with a practically unlimited quantity of explorable scenarios.
  • Places and locations
    From a micro-geographic point of view, the vast territories that can be inspected in the individual environments (ruins, houses, transit areas, abandoned cities, buildings, vehicles[60], polluted areas, embankments, fortifications, tent cities, floating platforms, wrecks, airports are integrated into the vast territories , military bases, underground tunnels), with related information elements (food, clothes, medicines, weapons, ammunition and other objects) and possible associated surviving subjects (allies, neutrals, antagonists, animals, mutants).
  • Vehicles
    The van available to cannibals testifies to the presence, albeit very rare, of still functioning vehicles and fuel reserves.[61] The possible discovery of other intact or repairable vehicles (civil, military, air, sea) can revolutionize the movement capabilities inside the fictional world (reducing distances, changing reaction times and itineraries, facilitating territorial explorations), the possibility of survival ( search for resources, climate protection, defensive and offensive capabilities) and opportunities for social relationships (contacts and interaction between unknown human groups equipped with other vehicles and from remote territories), thus preparing the story for unexpected narrative implications in different variants (revelations , betrayals, kidnappings, alliances, chases, battles, sabotages, exchanges, common journeys, colonies, energy resources) possibly starting further tales.

5.2.2. War background
Deeply probing the geopolitical origin of the fictional world makes the production of interesting historiographic materials available, which can then be converted into additional information elements by combining events, places, subjects and plots hitherto considered implicit or marginal, instead establishing new relationships. By placing the original catastrophic event in a past period between 9–12 years (the corresponding estimated age of the child), a period of crisis characterized by crime, terrorism, anarchy, authoritarianism, humanitarian emergencies, black market, emigrations and worldwide disorders: key factors to reconstruct the global degeneration process and understand the situational state up to the present time.

Main historiographic elements under review:

  • Territorial control
    The catastrophe dissolved government authority and canceled ordinary jurisdictional boundaries. The resulting territorial division includes areas destroyed or polluted, and areas controlled discontinuously and anarchically by various surviving communities (military, mercenaries, refugees, criminals, ethnic minorities, religious, extremists) adverse to a peaceful and soon mutually hostile coexistence.
  • Control of resources
    Bartering gradually replaced the entire monetary system: the search, management and distribution of now limited resources (water, food, clothing, medicines, armaments, fuel and other useful objects) trigger thefts, fires, famines, rape, kidnappings , riots, mutinies, massacres and militarizations, to the point of provoking forced territorial divisions, famines and a serious demographic crisis.
  • Anthropological evolution
    Refugees who have survived violence, imprisonment and malnutrition organize themselves into nomadic or permanent communities, occupying urban areas, neighbouring ruins and migrating to previously uninhabited territories. The exodus produced the birth of numerous community groups and societies (vagabonds, pacifists, foreigners of various nationalities, religious fundamentalists, detainees and deserters, paramilitary companies, political extremists, tribal societies and elite sects) soon involved in punitive expeditions, torture and clashes armed for reasons of supremacy. Formations and factions emerge, leaders and idols, sectarian cults and degenerate ideologies, sexual deviations and cannibalistic phenomena: humanity definitively falls into a fate of horrendous and total involution.

5.2.3. Independent stories
Making the ecosystem of an imaginary world realistic means providing a plurality of environments and subjects interrelated to the main story [62]. If properly prepared, the same story can thus be observed from multiple points of view: any subject existing in the world (protagonists, antagonists, neutral, allies, marginal observers) is in fact the bearer of unique experiential information (geographical origin, biographical background, existential objectives , interpersonal relationships, abilities, objects) capable of completing, altering or even completely deconstructing the narrative truth so far perceived[63], and creating simultaneous, but independent existential dimensions.

Recalling the scenario portrayed in The Road, the presence of parallel narratives distributed between primary and secondary characters favours the collection of questions and curiosities, which can eventually be transformed into valid narrative integrations.

Regarding primary characters:

  • The future of the child
    Heir and survivor, the child is rescued by the veteran and welcomed with affection into a new family of survivors in transit along the coast. Therefore, from a cinematographic point of view, there is an immediate and already active story linked to the direct future of the child still awaiting representation: from the first days of the journey after the father’s death, to the following journeys made in unknown territories; from becoming an adult and then a father, to commanding a team of armed survivors in a war against rival cannibal gangs to regain territories, save lives and found peaceful communities. Projecting the child into an unknown future (immediate or advanced) allows you to create a new biographical profile (adult, fighter, parent, elderly, mutilated), reveal unpublished childhood memories (moments and conversations with parents, dreams, memories, drawings, personal thoughts), define the current existential condition (traveler, prisoner, heir, avenger, saviour, investigator)
  • The veteran and the family
    Mature age and traumatic experience as a veteran and survivor make the veteran a valuable source of information: combining historical background (catastrophe, crisis, departure, survival, war period), personal identity (geographical origin, family ties, profession), events recent (places visited, relationships, moral choices, bereavements, armed clashes) and existential objectives (values, motivations, final goal, collected objects) a particularly articulated and integrative biographical profile is created, ready for its own development. Reconsidering in depth the role of the veteran implies imagining, logically, the existence of an interconnected parallel story, active throughout the main travel period (as primary narrative level) known through the point of view of the protagonists (father and son): the entire film story can thus be reimagined by impersonating the veteran traveling with the family (wife, two children, dog and related information), reliving known time intervals, but now shown with simultaneous and alternative outcomes (e.g. any clashes that occurred with the cannibals of the van, an attempt to free the prisoners in the cellar, the encounter with the old man and the thief, the dog), or even projecting the story into unpublished events (e.g. the return to the underground shelter for supplies, an fatal ambush, help to a fugitive, the discovery of a working vehicle, the discovery of a commune, etc.) by exploring a multitude of branches n arrangements between past periods, and future intervals with the child.

Regarding secondary characters:

  • Ely
    Ill refugee and now almost blind, Ely (perhaps false name) is the oldest subject encountered in The Road and a source of partial historical information. During a conversation with his father Ely declares that he remembers the manifestation of specific warning signs coinciding with the catastrophe (without specifying its origin or frequency), and when he is moved he declares his paternity with respect to a son who has now passed away, but omitting the exact cause of mourning.[64] Historical memories of the fictional world emerge (possible serial natural disasters, planetary alignments, solar storms, chemical variations, experiments or military accidents) and the mystery of the death of his son (perhaps killed, escaped, died in an earthquake, betrayed and abandoned by the father, or suicide).
  • The thief
    African American wanderer expelled from a commune[65], the thief is initially threatened with death and then left naked and without food by his father to take revenge for the theft suffered. When the child, sympathetic and understanding, returns the clothes and a can of food to the thief, however, the man is absent, already disappeared among the neighbouring coastal dunes. Contemplating the possible ordinary biographical background (identity, origin, history, memories, relationships) and recent experiences (especially the question of a municipality of belonging, knowing the geographical position, resident population, technological equipment and management functioning), the errant attitude of the thief favours numerous possibilities of narrative plot (meeting with Ely, kidnapped by cannibals and then saved by the veteran, spy of a municipality, leader of an incognito criminal gang).
  • The cannibals
    The diversification of known criminal groups (cannibals van/house/ forest, and, if affiliated to a gang, armed survivors included) seems to make sustainable the hypothesis of a generic territorial division occurred between the antagonist gangs, perhaps decided after the crisis period seeking an agreement for mutual survival, it still appears to be generally respected.[66] It is therefore logical to imagine the presence of any camps (such as huts in the woods), deposits, manned areas, municipalities and forts, shelters and tunnels, suspended structures, requisitioned military bases, groups, brotherhoods and nomadic groups equipped with vehicles (motorcycles, cars , trucks, habitable vans), bands with light aircraft and boats, up to a hypothetical feudal fortified city, in command of a sectarian oligarchy or a supreme king.

Regarding evaluating radical project interventions:

  • Invisible or unthinkable characters
    Contemplating the idea of ​​a scenic truth that can be interpreted in alternative and simultaneous time intervals and spatial limits, the revelation of apparently non-existent subjects[67] predisposes the story to incredible margins of rewriting and design expansion: studied in harmony with the recovery of previously marginal information elements (figurative details, verbal allusions, sound clues, hereditary questions of other projects), the multiplication of points of view internal to a story[68] automatically incentivizes the creation of serial projects and transmedia extensions, increasing the potential narratives of all intellectual property.

5.3. Project and market

The prestigious literary requirements of Cormac McCarthy and the curated film version of Hillcoat and Penhall make The Road a rare and original story, with an exciting and competitive narrative potential capable of easily supporting an extremely precious intellectual property, in the past paradoxically damaged by a inconsistent, confusing and disastrous promotional activity.[69] The current media scenario, and in particular the advanced commercial context of the United States, is distinguished by the emergence of a marked and growing interest, both in financial usefulness and in professional prestige, towards the development of immersive experiences: literary sagas and comic book series, film remakes and restarts, videogame conversions and television adaptations, exclusive and integrated computer domains, realistic recreational parks[70] and prototypical narrations in virtual reality[71] continuously feed the study of innovative forms of entertainment and promotion , profoundly influencing the entire creative industry and its professions.

This condition (entrepreneurial, technological, cultural, commercial) implies the urgent need to manage materials, information and intellectual properties in cohesive, synergistic and functional production systems, trying to optimize the involvement of the public and, given the key role of the media conglomerates, of maximize the economic profits of all subsidiaries of the subsidiaries (production, television, publishing, distribution, music and tourism).[72] Having a complex fictional world at your disposal, intended as a creative space specially designed to host and multiply products and stories while saving time and resources, thus becomes an essential strategic requirement, a project development formula capable of supporting pervasive, profitable and replicable transmedia initiatives long-term.

“A story might be introduced in a film, expanded through television, novels, and comics, and its world might be explored and experienced through game play […] picking up new consumers.”[73]

Freely imagining a short and personal evaluation reconsideration of The Road from a design perspective of immersive entertainment, 6 possible directions of development with a transmedia system are proposed.

5.3.1. Immersive editorial initiative
Adopting a technical and minimal definition, the object-book can be described as an analogical support with a linear information system, that is a paper media channel containing a uniform, sequential and measurable flow of content. By comparing the native form of The Road, (traditional modern novel) with an advanced or transmedial type of immersive configuration, the original level of interaction offered appears elementary and ordinary: bound, the reader limits himself to processing the printed information (organized through markers pre-established linguistic, numerical and typographical) until the consultation of the text is concluded within a certain time interval. End of the literary entertainment process.

Over ten years after the first original edition published in 2006, the reconsideration of the linear reading model in The Road leads to rediscover the limits and creative resources of the paper domain, and to formally re-evaluate the textual work by experimenting with mixed instruments in innovative combinations: caskets and special papers, customized typographic solutions[74], illustrations[75], photographs, extractable elements, realistic signs of wear (creases, holes, burns, discolouration) and fine finishes (seals, textile inserts, reliefs) define editorial collectibles , unique and surprising; artifacts capable of revolutionizing the usual reading experience by involving the user in an asymmetrical textual and object exploration, using non-linear and multimodal interactive processes.

The idea of ​​a renewed editorial initiative (also ideally curated by McCarthy, Hillcoat and Penhall) represents the first, logical feasible creative direction: favoured by relatively low costs, full authorial control, (if any) consolidated professional relationships and verified case studies available, the creation of a special printed edition, revised, enlarged and enhanced, is functional and with decidedly promising commercial prospects.

Main positive strategic objectives:

  • It celebrates the historic authorial figure of McCarthy (1933) and reactivates the communicative potential of the novel in a completely redesigned way of reading, further expanding its literary and cultural significance.
  • It meets the strong interest of a traditional audience (expert and occasional readers) and, equally, attracts groups of compatible subjects (spectators and users attracted by science fiction themes and immersive products) thus multiplying the opportunities for media visibility (through interviews, reviews, social platforms ) and sales expectations.
  • It amplifies the product’s sense of material preciousness and the resulting emotional affiliation of the reader, a metaphorical survivor of the world of The Road, who has now become heir to a book-find to be preserved, reread and shared.
  • It predisposes intellectual property to a total media reformulation, encouraging the development of transmedia connections between re-edited novel and film story, in anticipation of future and long-term project initiatives (e.g. a computer domain, an independent film trilogy, a video game, a television series, a cartoon and related promotional campaigns[76]).
  • It promotes a synergistic production context, interdisciplinary methods and entrepreneurial collaborations between heterogeneous professional figures (writers, directors, designers)[77] seeking continuous design innovations both in the analogical field (favouring the paper, typographic, artistic sector), and in the digital field (stimulating technological, IT and interactional combinations) bringing a common benefit.

Seeking realism and identification to represent the fragmentary apocalyptic chronicle described in The Road, the initial proposal to reproduce a likely travel diary (a composite notebook assembled from sheets, various notes and materials found along the way; imaginatively preserved by the father, inherited from his son and then arrived at the reader) it exposes the project to unlimited applicative experiments: layout format, differentiated papers, calligraphic simulations, signs of wear (creases, erasures, tears, ash stains, mud, rain, food, blood) and paper inserts (photographs, labels, tickets and various sheets) contribute to defining an unprecedented editorial choice and literary entertainment.

By limiting the observations to an indicative and preliminary level, the immersive re-edition process must be calibrated by evaluating the use of at least three fundamental methods of project intervention:

  • Unpublished texts
    The inclusion of unpublished preparatory sections (preface, introduction, notes, appendix) and exclusive interviews (addressed to McCarthy and his son John Francis[78], Hillcoat, Penhall, Chris Kennedy, Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee and others) increases the informative value of the editorial project, integrating the novel with a precious and updated specifically compiled interdisciplinary critical apparatus.
  • Integrative materials and artifacts
    Retrieving the formula of the travel diary, the inclusion of extractable materials and artifacts[79], combined with experimental editorial interventions (errors, handwritten notes of the father or narrator[80], fake pages missing or still pasted etc.) stimulate the reader to make personalized interactions between text-artifacts and vice versa, reconstructing an imaginary historical memory (variable in time, space and subjects) through the combination and unification of narrative details so far never fully explained.
  • Predisposition to transmedia systems
    The editorial initiative must include references (narrative, figurative, chronological, theoretical) to further media products (proprietary, related, previous or predicted, set in the same fictional world or conceived in a compatible creative universe) with the objective priority to structure a large transmedia entertainment system, respecting the original intellectual property and ensuring the commercial success of all branches.
  • Digital interaction (optional)
    The reading process on paper may possibly include a parallel experience of digital interaction on mobile devices[81] by amplifying specific textual parts. The creation of an application dedicated to the book allows to combine the immersive potential of the novel with the hypertextual multimedia of the digital space, enhancing the eclectic role of the contemporary reader-user. Exclusive materials and complementary artifacts (interactive map, excerpts of recited text, soundtrack and environmental sounds, photographs and videos, illustrations, animations, descriptions of objects, material effects), combined with special related promotional initiatives[82], complete the offer of editorial entertainment, deferring the public to further transmedia developments.
Immersive meta-novel — Designed by director J.J. Abrams with the writer Doug Dorst, S. Ship of Theseus (Melcher Media, 2013) offers an extremely sophisticated editorial configuration. Written by an imaginary author named V. M. Straka, the book presents two distinct narratives between the main text and the posthumous annotations reported by two university students. Prints, postcards, maps, photographs, documents, telegrams and newspaper clippings guide the reader in an intense investigation to discover past and present mysteries.
Rediscovered Diary — Written by Alex Irvine, New York Collapse (Chronicle Books/Melcher Media, 2016) plays
a survival manual that belonged to a young April Kelleher, survivor of a fatal pandemic that originated in NY. Through notes, underlines, comments, ambiguous clues, theories, illustrations and extractable artifacts (notice for vaccination, public transport card, map of Manhattan etc.) the reader relives April’s past and discoveries, decoding the secrets connected to the video game by The Division (Ubisoft, 2016).

5.3.2. Independent cinematic story
Production needs, commercial expectations and technological possibilities continue to influence the evolution of the film sector: animated episodes, remakes, re-editions and film extensions (trilogies, quadrilogies and beyond) [83] cyclically rewrite stories and characters, worlds and scenarios, styles, genres and promotional strategies by arbitrarily recombining the pre-existing narratives and architectures of entire imaginary universes.[84]

Rewriting and reorganizing the scenic material has the aim of reinterpreting the communicative and commercial potential of a product, or of an intellectual property (a novel, a screenplay, a comic, a play, theatrical or musical), recalibrating its design qualities in on the basis of technological progress and cultural changes that have occurred in the meantime: a narrative (and promotional) regeneration is then carried out by studying competitive products, adapted to respond effectively to today’s changing and immense commercial ecosystem. To recontextualize, adapt and perfect the imaginary universe of an intellectual property, it is necessary to examine its founding principles and carefully evaluate any discursive variations: the alteration of the pre-established parameters (the original generative coordinates) significantly influences the future narrative configuration, conditioning the creation of transmedia scenic materials and determining the resulting sector positioning with respect to rival products.

Independent Heirs — Conceived in pre-existing universes, Fantastic Beasts (D. Yates, 2016) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (G. Edwards, 2016), however, describe autonomous stories, foreseen in serial chapters and accessible without binding previous knowledge.

By imagining to represent the generative coordinates of The Road (time, space, themes, history, population, situations) in a dynamic system of parameters (simulating the interface of a control panel) it is possible to view the entire information architecture of the story by observing the division into individual structural components.

The categories and the graphic elaboration of the reported parametric domains are naturally a simplified and incomplete representation [85], however sufficient to underline the problems related to the rewriting, comparative analysis and design reorganization processes, especially when applied to particularly complex immersive reconfigurations .

In short, the generative system of The Road can be summarized in 6 main parametric domains:

  • Geographical domain
    It establishes the territorial extension, the types of environment (natural and artificial), the localities, the places (architectural or abstract) and the spatial relationships existing in the imagined world.
  • Temporal domain
    It regulates the chronological and mnemonic relationships of the narrative flow with respect to past, future, simultaneous and alternative, psychic, imaginary or scientifically paradoxical time intervals.[86]
  • Anthropological domain
    It concerns the existence, function and interaction between human subjects, plant and animal beings, microorganisms or abstract and artificial entities.
  • Technological domain
    It includes all available technologies, including clothes, food, objects, weapons, vehicles, accessories.
  • Stylistic domain
    Identify the themes, the narrative components,
    the aesthetic and figurative codes, the linguistic registers, the musical choices, the semantic value and the semiotic properties associated with the project.
  • Situational domain
    It decides which conditions (physical or mental; previous, current, unexpected) determine the existential motivations, reactions and phenomenal manifestations of the subjects involved during the narrative development.
The values ​​represented in the graphs are to be considered totally random and exemplary. In a possible dedicated analytical study, an adequate system of numerical ratios will have to be defined, sometimes variable according to the type of parameter to be quantified (scale, figure, percentage, km2, cubic meter).

5.3.3. Television series
The adoption of transmedia configurations in the film field has in parallel influenced television entertainment[87] by favouring the creation of original immersive series[88] and stimulating the conversion of film works into serial television productions[89]: responsibly managing types of media content and adaptation has become a priority strategic issue to improve the performance of an intellectual property.

Reinterpreting The Road in television version prefigures completely renewed design experiments and commercial perspectives: encyclopedic compilations, diversified and participatory users, integrative technologies (analog, digital, virtual) and continuous promotional activities definitively change information management strategies by updating the story to recent immersive entertainment models.

The introduction of computer domains with unpublished materials (e.g. interactive maps and timelines, biographical sections, voice recordings, found objects, decoding of messages in foreign languages), the affiliation of a large and responsive audience (millions of spectators and users devoted to science fiction/dystopian/dramatic stories), the narrative complementarity between related products (in a literary, cinematic, videogame constellation) and the viral media proliferation on social platforms only partially outline the potential margins of success of a curated television production.

By simplifying the various editorial, cultural, economic and technological criteria involved, an immersive planning orientation provides:

  • Encyclopedic knowledge
    The creation of a world implies the production, naming and classification of a large quantity of informative material (history, biographies, environments, architectures, weapons, enemies and vehicles, creatures, spells and divinities, symbols) by requiring the compilation of an apparatus broad and multidisciplinary knowledge. The cataloging of all materials, officially provided[90] or carried out by users[91], often incorporates the structure of an encyclopedic archive: entries, sections, articles, references and discussions make up a hypertextual and updatable collective research space, providing the resources in a careful form of scientific consultation. Such information methods are linked to impressive participatory practices and allow designers to monitor the reactions, ideas and expectations of the public, who has now become an expert producer of independent resources (sites, texts, translations, films, images, illustrations, diagrams), looking for to understand their interpretations and preferences.
  • Diverse audience
    The planning of a network of entertainment products derived from a single world-matrix[92] favours their application in various media sectors (preferably proprietary or in any case controllable) with the aim of involving numerous subjects and large social groups: readers, viewers, gamers, users and other profiles (identified on the basis of age, education, financial availability, commercial preference and other factors) relate to editorial, film, videogame, IT and musical materials by multiplying profits in cross markets. This diversification (narrative, stylistic and commercial) enhances intellectual property by attracting user bases otherwise dispersed in rival products.
  • Technological migration
    Stimulated to learn curiosities, previews, behind the scenes, scenarios, opinions and narrative details, the user is encouraged to carry out an informative research by consulting different sources: from official sites to social platforms, from journalistic material to the community of fans, from television programs[93] at sectoral events, up to food products[94], the promotional campaign engages the viewer in a series of migrations (physical and digital) for the purpose of gathering and informative understanding. The use of a fragmented information flow strategy increases the visibility of the product on the Net, amplifying its commercial expectations and the resulting cultural impact.
  • Promotional longevity
    In an extremely competitive market oriented to invest in impressive immersive projects, the ordinary advertising campaign (temporary, technologically limited and tied to the traditional and simplistic poster-prologue-projection-domestic market paradigm) is necessarily perfected and translated into a long-lasting and industrious promotional activity, designed to cyclically stimulate the public to participate, research and share scenic materials: the resulting media echo must in fact be able to cover a wide time interval (variable in weeks, months and years) with the aim of keeping the commercial interest in periods of transition while waiting for a new television series[95], or a cinematographic[96] and videogame chapter[97]. It is therefore a priority to plan a permanent promotional campaign by pre-programming exclusive content with gradual release (artifacts, images, interviews, archival material) to reactivate, intrigue and reward the user communities by providing them with the always promotional opportunity to live further experiences of entertainment awaiting future developments.[98]
The promotional site WhoIsMrRobot, dedicated to the television series Mr. Robot (S. Esmail, 2015–2019), reproduces the computer terminal with Linux operating system used by the protagonist Elliot Alderson, a young engineer and computer pirate suffering from mental disorders. To interact, the user can type specific commands in an active window, open the folders in the background displaying scans of documents, photographs, technical instructions, or start a video game programmed by fsociety, the anarchist collective founded by Elliot.

5.3.4. Video game product
In a virtual environment, the methods of interaction, interpretation and understanding depend directly on the player, free to alter, within the programmed limits, the narrative linearity of the project based on stylistic choices, random factors and personal emotional predispositions.

Given the obvious media differences compared to the cinematographic domain, it is a priority to conceive the videogame project avoiding simplistic emulations, redundancies or reiterations, but instead considering virtual intervention as a form of entertainment with specific requirements, cognitive processes and operating subjects.

Involved in interdependent actions and reactions, the viewer transforms into an IT user: he enters an imaginary world, explores territories and environments, establishes paths and sequences of events, uses objects and apparatuses, relates to linguistic codes, experiences emotional states, makes choices, dies, is reborn and develops interpersonal relationships: it lives, that is, a complex and immersive simulation activity exploring an interactive and composite information system, with the aim of pursuing a series of recreational and cognitive objectives associated with the chosen product.

Cineludic hybrids — The production of the third-person sci-fi video game Quantum Break (Remedy, 2016) included the participation of important actors (Shawn Ashmore, Aidan Gillen, Dominic Monaghan, Lance Reddick and others), digitally scanned during their real stage performances. The virtual experience then includes an exclusive television series directly interconnected with the videogame story: the game sessions and the user’s choices interact with 4 short transition episodes, designed to complete the story by revealing new information elements.

With regard to the case of The Road, the story (endowed with a large world, multiple environments, exciting protagonists, traumatic situations, enemy factions) lends itself positively to a realistic videogame representation[99], oriented to faithfully simulate the extreme conditions of father and son on their survival journey[100]. The adoption of a third-person view (framing the whole subject in an external rear view) favours the observation of the landscape through an independent rotation axis, amplifies the actions performed (combat, escape, guide, exploration, protection) and visual perception of a controlled subject[101] (build, clothes, equipment, state of health[102] and other modifiable elements) returning an engaging sensory experience (atmosphere, photorealism, interaction system, soundtrack, stage situations) and rendering cyclically variable (repeatable by making different choices, both in behaviour and in solving game problems).

The possibility of reliving the actions of The Road previously seen in cinematic form (memories, chases, investigations, violent acts) by integrating literary events or imagining excluded and alternative scenes[103] (eg: accumulating food reserves during the crisis, distracting cannibals from the forest, collecting firewood, filtering drinking water, swimming in the sea, inspecting the birthplace or shipwreck, recovering objects and ammunition, playing the piano with his wife, building a trap, driving a vehicle etc.) completely rewrite the previous narrative limits[104] renewing the entire information architecture with facts that were previously only intuited.

Now, virtually impersonating the protagonist (the father, the child, the veteran, the wife, an unthinkable character [105]), the user moves around in unexplored areas, adopts personalized behaviours, causes unexpected effects, uses weapons and uses drugs, acquires historical and biographical information (eg photographs, newspapers, documents and letters, inscriptions or registrations[106]), investigates, helps other survivors (intersecting plots and secondary objectives), reacts and fights living in an open and dynamic world, logically rendered suitable for hosting future narrative expansions.[107]

Action and exploration — Stories of explorations, dystopias, investigations, conflicts, salvation and survival combine heroes and heroines in numerous video game adventures, offering engaging narratives and extraordinary technical results. Cinematic adaptations inspired by the worlds of Uncharted, Tomb Raider, The Last of Us and The Division are currently in development.

5.3.5. Virtual reality experience
The subject of a significant global phenomenon of technological, commercial and sociological change still in the definition phase, virtual domain has rapidly become a key element of multi-sectoral innovation and a reason for strong professional competition for the entire entertainment industry.[108] Disciplinary versatility and almost unlimited performance potential continue to interest companies and conglomerates[109], entrepreneurs and designers, authors and programmers, constantly committed to inventing application solutions, studying profitable financial structures, developing performing peripheral properties and stimulating the public to immerse themselves in spectacular experiences virtual.

In anticipation of a growing technological roots, the design of virtual experiences for entertainment purposes is already a central theme for investigating today’s digital culture, the ways of representing and managing information and the design changes adopted in immersive communication systems.

The idea of ​​reinterpreting The Road’s intellectual property by creating a virtual reality project is sustainable with 4 predominant positive factors:

  • Executive feasibility
    Conceiving a short-term intervention, such as a prologue, a short film, a sequence, allows you to limit costs relatively and drastically reduce working times. The resulting project acts as an experimental promotional product, useful for assessing a first media reaction without exposing itself to marked risks of commercial failure. Once the market response and public interest have been assessed, further resources can be invested to consolidate intellectual property in other media forms.
  • Transmedia compatibility
    The virtual experience can be introduced in full narrative autonomy, both to inaugurate an unpublished or reworked intellectual property, and to integrate with an antecedent transmedia system, helping to extend the pre-existing or expected narrative segments.
  • Total immersion
    The virtual experience involves the user in a multisensory interactive process redefining the usual level of entertainment perceived during an ordinary cinematic vision or video game activity.[110] The combination of the virtual visor with coordinated and wearable technological devices (pointers, gloves, collars, haptic vests[111]) considerably amplifies the immersion process by increasing the degree of realism of the perceivable simulation parameters (visual, interactive/motor, auditory, tactile , olfactory[112]).
  • Technological incentive
    The promise to experience high quality immersive entertainment even in the home environment implies the possession of high-performance and updated technological devices, binding the user at multiple expenses.
    The creation of an exclusive project in virtual form can convince the public to renew their systems, directing their purchasing preferences with special combinations of products.

In a first indicative analysis, the virtual conversion of the world of The Road can follow two main creative directions:

  • Cinematic emulation
    The virtual project is conceived in harmony with the original film story, generally keeping its narrative structure, subjects, spatial and chronological references unchanged. For transmedia purposes, the project must contain unpublished and complementary information elements, integrating, within the limits of a creative license, eliminated, extended scenes or exclusive sequences (e.g. youth memories, the catastrophe, the crisis, the birth, the depression, the departure ), temporal alterations and revelations, both with previous references and clues (encouraging the viewing of the film story or reading the novel), and offering references and allusions to further initiatives.
  • Independent episode
    The virtual project draws inspiration from the original film story, shares its fictional world, but, in relation to the chosen generative parameters, it can inaugurate an autonomous narrative development with radically different subjects, places, events and existential conditions (e.g. introducing the story of a another family of survivors; a group of men armed against cannibals; a ship of refugees dispersed at sea; an underground community of survivors) proposing a new segment of intellectual property with narrative scenarios and aesthetic canons, also totally revisited.
  • Serial programming (optional)
    In any configuration chosen, the project must include special contents and collateral expansion packages (e.g. war background, collection of drawings, dreams, childhood memories, sheet music, radio news, ornithology book, survival techniques course, codes, secret government documentation) by preparing the virtual entertainment offer for serial development, diversified into multiple experiences (spectatorial, exploratory, investigative, auditory[113]) and supported by related promotional and participatory practices.
Virtual chills — Reproducing an adrenaline chase scene visible in Goosebumps (R. Letterman, 2015), the user sits in the car with the protagonist R. L. Stine (Jack Black) trying to escape desperately from a gigantic praying mantis appeared in the city. Studied in collaboration with the director and the MPC studio, the scene [1:40] was released in a special application for mobile devices and made available in selected cinemas during the projection period.
Brutal Shootouts — Squad 360 (3:49) reinterprets a scene from Suicide Squad (D. Ayer, 2016) in virtual reality, transporting the user to an office, at the center of a violent gunfight between the team of criminal protagonists and a group of enemies. The extreme viewing angle allows a total exploration of the scene, following the evolution of an encirclement maneuver between tracer bullets and killings. The sequence is reproduced in two views: the first as a free spectator, and in conclusion, with the subjective point of view of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) armed with gun and club.
Love memories — Written and directed by Sam Esmail as a promotional short film integrated with the TV series Mr. Robot (S. Esmail, 2015-), the virtual reality project proposes an exclusive short story (13:04) dedicated to an appointment between Elliot, the protagonist, and Shayla, the affectionate neighbor. The user, seen by Elliot as an imaginary friend, can thus visit the apartment, walk on the seafront, sit on the Coney Island Ferris wheel and learn more about the emotional profile of the protagonists, then awakening in the room together with Elliot, in a present of memories and loneliness.

5.3.6. Board game
A functional intellectual property is equally declinable in the analog domain with surprising results: maps, cards, plastic models, pawns, dice, penalties, rounds, roles, editorial artifacts[114] and digital integrations[115] allow you to experiment with forms of entertainment by combining materials inspirational stages (characters, illustrations, scenarios, weapons and equipment) and playful mechanics (strategic objectives, final score, elimination of the opponent, finishing position) and create an engaging and original board game, often supported through participatory financing platforms[116 ], which were useful both in reducing costs and production times by re-using available creative resources (from previous projects), and in intercepting collective desires by carefully planning the intervention.

Involved in a further analogical and interpretive transmedia declination, the players become authors-spectators, creators of personalized playful narratives: they interpret identities (father, son, cannibals, fugitives, thief, old man, veteran), live existential conditions (survival, violence, travel, unpredictability), decide the rhythm of the story (phases of movement, rest, dialogue, care, attack, defense, manufacture of objects) and make otherwise unthinkable moral choices (e.g. take the cannibal of the van hostage, free the prisoners of the house , stay in the underground refuge, sacrifice the father or kill the child, travel with the old Ely, shoot the thief or the veteran) thus creating an infinite number of narrative variations, unique and alternative stories, co-created and shared together with all participants in a recreational experience of knowledge and close social interaction.

“So stories and games are intimately connected because they’re two sides of the same impulse. Stories give rise to play, and play gives rise to stories”. [117]

Analog Conversion — Board games inspired by the game worlds of Gears of War (2011), Batman Arkham City (2013), Bioshock Infinite (2013), Portal (2015), Bloodborne (2016) and Doom (2016) underline the importance of media adaptation processes, especially when applied to intellectual properties originally conceived as digital interactive products.

Considering the feasibility of a playful analogical project inspired by The Road, 5 predominant positive aspects are underlined:

  • Media recognition and affinity
    The coherent maintenance of stylistic aspects (such as iconographic connotation, chromatic system, phenomenal realism, linguistic codes) and original thematic references (catastrophism, extinction, anarchy and social degeneration, survival, travel) extends intellectual property in sectorial applications and related markets keeping the quality requirements unchanged: the story is reproduced, or enlarged, faithfully through a refined and competitive product, obtaining commercial attention in a large catchment area.[118]
  • Collectible artifacts
    The production of checkers, cards, maps, dice, scenic elements, illustrated manuals and related expansion materials with a special or limited edition (e.g. characters, enemies, weapons and skill cards, geographic portions that can be implemented) allow you to cyclically alter and renew stories, habitual game scenarios and dynamics by stimulating sequential purchases, collecting practices and affiliation phenomena. [119]
  • Personalized storytelling
    Having full freedom of action during the game, within the limits of the regulation, the player has the right to decide what actions to take (move forward, backward, attack, defend, hide, wait, hinder an opponent, heal, surrender), what relationships to establish with other players (allies, neutrals, enemies, accomplices for common purposes) and what strategies to adopt to complete primary missions and secondary objectives. The type of decision-making attitude defines a personalized playful and narrative context, periodically modifiable thanks to unique situations (choices made, applicable game styles, subjects involved, randomness) determining practically infinite game combinations and a constant desire for repeated participation.[120]
  • Transmedia compatibility
    The scenic materials used for the production of the board game (both reinterpreted using previous sources, and conceived specifically for the project) optimize and enhance the communicative potential of the entire original intellectual property by presenting unprecedented visual and interactional manifestations. The board game can therefore be used as an initiation artifact, with the function of representing a project intervention designed to start or complete the communication system with trans-media system of The Road, and favour its narrative continuation in any other design form.
  • Entrepreneurial synergy
    Similarly to a literary reissue and a complementary analogue initiative, the search for special quality requirements (games, graphics, paper) encourages intersectoral collaborations between authors, illustrators, communication studios and paper converting workshops with the common aim of sharing interdisciplinary talents and skills and create together a high-quality artifact, designed in harmony with the transmedia principles, market requirements, and player wishes.

5.4. Immersion technical tests

Aware of the technological and cultural changes within today’s changing media scenario, production companies and communication agencies continue to invest huge resources in immersive and transmedia projects: literary re-editions, comics, TV series, remakes and cinematographic anthologies, video games experiences in virtual reality, board games and complementary commercial initiatives testify the aptitude to design an increasingly complex type of entertainment, extended over time, diversified in content and open to participatory practices of the public.

Altered the traditional narrative linearity, the creation of immersive intellectual properties gradually introduced serial and stratified narratives, imaginary universes and open worlds, parallel plots, variable time intervals and independent backstage by designing composite, interdependent information systems characterized by overlapping stories, omissions, enigmas and transmedia clues designed to stimulate the public to carry out research, migration, analysis and sharing, and to encourage purchases of collateral or similar, analog and digital products.

In a nutshell, the sectoral experimentation with immersive orientation essentially contemplated three basic design properties:

  • Deep conception
    Authors, screenwriters, directors and designers conceive the intellectual properties by studying their generative coordinates in detail (geographical, historical, anthropological, economic and technological aspects) to create mythologies, proto-histories and complex narrative universes: the entire information architecture, generally including numerous subjects , explorable places and multiple narrative plots, is premeditatedly structured to increase the opportunities for narrative expansion (in literary, comic, cinematographic, television, videogame form etc.) and to host pervasive promotional strategies.
  • Integrated communication
    The communication apparatus applied to immersive products acts both as an information system integrated with the central narrative (promoting the primary narrative), and as a parallel and independent expressive system (promoting transmedia variations) dedicated to the representation of new aspects connected to the fictional world also through interactive methods and playful initiatives. The narrative relationship established between all contents (cinematographic materials, IT domains, videogame interactions, editorial resources) determines an intertextual coexistence network established by coordinating, in a heterogeneous but complementary flow, the broad creative potential of the original intellectual property: the phase promotional becomes an additional entertainment experience.
  • Participation and customization
    In an immersive design structure, the role of the public logically covers a fundamental function: eager for entertainment, competent and hyper-connected, the spectator-user observes, searches, listens, comments and compares content, shares information, creates IT communities and compiles encyclopedic archives , formulates theories, connections, elaborates analysis and artifacts by interpreting the official materials with the intent to explore, deconstruct and autonomously reconstruct the information architecture of the project represented, managing to combine recreational and study purposes. The idea of ​​offering today’s public a personalized, interactive experience, tools for participation and co-authorship (above all through the technological and collaborative potential of the Network) represents a priority requirement, an essential strategic component, useful both for studying the related design problems, linguistic codes and emerging cultural phenomena, both to increase
    the competitiveness of intellectual property with international records and awards.

A practical testimony of the theoretical points indicated follows a selection of 12 promotional IT projects relating to cinematographic products, sufficient both to describe the emerging design configurations (with variable complexity), and to make you understand what the information systems, creative visions and management processes are immersive applicable to an intellectual property.

Criminal families — Dedicated to the film story of Lawless (J. Hillcoat, 2012), the official website extends the criminal environment and the violent conduct of the Bondurant brothers, alcohol traffickers during Prohibition, in the interactive field. In addition to promotional videos, information notes and biographical profiles (characters, actors, director, collaborators), the user can relive two film scenes by undertaking a virtual street shooting against armed rivals, or face a brutal bare-handed fight in the Bondurant club finally sharing the scores online.
The law of the street — Sound effects, visual disturbances and animated images make up, recalling a frenetic and brutal urban atmosphere, the OutMonsterTheMonster site, created for Triple 9 (J. Hillcoat, 2016). The 12 pages present (1 for the promo, 11 for subjects and themes) introduce the individual personalities of the characters and the preliminary information of the story by combining texts, photo galleries, differentiated music, vocal inserts, citations and hypertext references (#).
Conspiracies and mutants — Integrated with the story of X-Men: Days of Future Past (B. Singer, 2014), the Bent Uchronic interactive experience The Bent Bullet reconstructs the assassination of JFK attributing responsibility to Erik Lehnsherr, called Magneto, mutant capable of controlling metals. The site, through a documentary path of archival materials, articles, films and government photographs, reveals the historical background of the violent social conflict between humans and mutants after the tragic events of November 22, 1963. https:/
Monstrous Secrets — Promotional intervention dedicated to Godzilla (G. Edwards, 2014), the Conspiracy Timeline website reconsiders the existence of the legendary monster by presenting an interactive chronological investigation path in a timeline with events, testimonies, revelations and archival material emerged between 1850 and 2013. A further and more complex domain (now inactive) then allows access, by typing specific commands, to a secret computer archive to deepen history, monster and fictional world.
Political Regimes — The famous transmedia campaign developed for the filmic quadrilogy of The Hunger Games (2012–15) includes amazing interactive experiences distributed across multiple domains (institutions, districts, government portals), collective contests, a likely virtual guided tour of Capitol City and collaborative challenges. The Panem TV Youtube channel and the Capitol Couture fashion site, combined with many other project interventions (interviews with producers, virtual citizenship of Panem etc.) offer spectacular highly immersive entertainment, making the dystopia described in Suzanne Collins’ three original novels almost real.
Space projects — An emblematic model of transmedia communication, the promotional campaign of Prometheus (R. Scott, 2012) marked unprecedented design goals. Inaugurated with an episode of TED set in 2023 led by the fake entrepreneur Peter Weyland, it continued on the corporate domain of Weyland Industries (financing company of the Prometheus Project), expanding the knowledge of the fictional world. Other interventions include an interactive exam for astronauts, archaeological finds, an exploratory video game, mathematical puzzles, fake job recruiting on Linked-In, advertising videos, and still unsolved narrative mysteries. See
Animal societies — The promotional site of Dawn of The Planet of The Apes (M. Reeves, 2014) provides a short aptitude test based on the psychological profiles shared between humans and monkeys. Complete three practical tests, the user is identified with the profile of an animal character. Other interventions, created for the previous chapter Rise of the Planet of the Apes (R. Wyatt, 2011), include a likely government domain with medical information on the pandemic caused by primates, and fake archive footage to document previous cognitive changes anomalous found in some monkey specimens. https:/
Viral simulations — Exploring the time interval preceding and interconnected to the videogame story of Tom Clancy’s: The Division (Ubisoft, 2016), the Collapse site operates as a realistic crisis simulator by calculating the risks of civil emergency in the event of a global pandemic using satellite data and real mathematical models. By impersonating the patient zero infected with a deadly virus, the user takes an interactive narrative path by deciding what actions to take to react to the symptoms (staying at home, going to the pharmacy or hospital, etc.) with the side effect of consciously promoting the contagion of millions of people and cause disastrous effects.
Almost Existing Nations — Conceived as an introductory study path to the film world of The Grand Budapest Hotel (W. Anderson, 2014), the Akademie Zubrowka website offers a realistic educational seminar to learn about the social, economic and political aspects of Zubrowka, the imaginary republic created by the director. The course, divided into three main sections (tourism economics, artistic disciplines, geopolitics), hosts original texts (including a culinary recipe), diagrams, photographs, scenic artifacts and interactive biographical sections of the characters with cinematographic extracts.
Definitive treatments — The promotional website of A Cure For Wellness [G. Verbinski, 2017) includes three therapeutic paths of sound meditation simulating a mental comfort session with a health care worker. Dialogues dedicated to natural elements (water, earth, air) and five animated images accompanied by sound backgrounds allude to a purifying cure offered by a mysterious Swiss institute, a key place in the film story. In addition to domination, a series of viral videos denigrate the contemporary world, considered materialistic and consumeristic, advising resolutive care.
Bioethical questionnaires — Part of a series of interventions designed to promote the biotechnological themed video dystopia of Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Treyarch, 2015), the interactive questionnaire What Would You Do Proposes a probable political survey on science fiction themes within the game world: 13 questions with limited response time (10 seconds available) evaluate the participant’s ideological profile (anti-changes/ neutral/in favour) in relation to the decisive relationship between ethics and technological progress, finally developing personalized diagrams that can be shared on the Net. See a complete analysis. See the complete analysis.
Night chronicle — The promotional site of Nightcrawler (D. Gilroy, 2014) transports the user to Los Angeles through the experience of Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), the controversial night owl protagonist who obsessively resumes accidents and tragedies to resell them to local television broadcasters . The domain simulates a typical Louis work night, always waiting for macabre events: using the cursor as a multifunction pointer, the user intercepts radio communications, calculates the road route, films the event and uploads the material for the broadcaster, gradually discovering exclusive film scenes.

5.4.1. Latest considerations
In a contemporary era of digital communication and hypertext information, of interconnected communities and instant messaging, of three-dimensional photorealism and unexpected analog rediscoveries, the polymorphic[121] transmedia phenomenon seems to describe the ideal design formula (broad, composite, alterable and participatory) of an exclusive multiprocedural information mechanism of a newborn digital era, but curiously reflects a first, logical correspondence in the functioning of human thought (multisensory and polysemantic) recalling the primordial and indissoluble existential relationship shared between human species, narrative practice and technological progress.[122]

The multifunctional adoption of immersive information systems (and the management of derivative technosocial changes) contemplates the conscious intention to define, with relevance and variable results, a new way of relating to knowledge and technology by experiencing transmedia as a condition of thought interdisciplinary useful to improve reading and study methods, communication and problem solving skills, learning and social interaction activities through composite and adaptive analysis methods.[123]

The intentional use of communication processes with a transmedia system therefore pursues the gradual adoption of a logical form of non-linear semantic organization, promoting a dynamic and versatile mental and operational attitude, capable of transforming ordinary entertainment activities (univocal, single-media, limited or repeated without integrations) in an experience of amplified, associative, cumulative research, reproducible in reverse order and in alternate domains facilitating, in certain contexts, the problematic and arbitrary relationship between the user and the immense, pervasive, predominantly digital media ecosystem.

“We now live in a moment where every story, image, brand, relationship plays itself out across the maximum number of media platforms. […] The result has been the push towards franchise-building in general and transmedia entertainment in particular.” [124]

The recent multisectoral preference for immersive projects continues to influence the evolution of the entrepreneurial, communicative and technological processes internal to the entire entertainment industry: the general demand for diversified, fragmented and multiplied content commits professionals to operate in a delicate phase of media transition, divided between the recovery of traditional models, the testing of renewed management systems and the provision of competitive experimental configurations.[125]

The evident executive affinities that can be observed between the current commercial trends confirm the need to conceive, intuit and support serial, reiterable and technologically performing entertainment experiences by periodically attracting the affiliated public (also with intergenerational references[126]) using information materials with a transmedia narrative component.

“This new mode of storytelling is transforming not just entertainment (the stories that are offered to us for enjoyment) but also advertising (the stories marketers tell us about their products) and autobiography (the stories we tell about ourselves.”[127]

Talking about transmedia means recognizing the existence, equality and interdependence of a plurality of forms of thought, language, knowledge, innovation: narrative, aesthetic, linguistic, informative, playful, sensorial, coexisting and coexisting systems in infinite configurations (multiform and asymmetric, normative and intuitive, analog and virtual), all capable of expanding the imaginative and applicative limits of ideas and projects, stories and products, personal individuality and collective identity by combining entertainment contents and learning methods in a formula totally amplified experiential.[128]

In a perpetually proliferative communication context, technological, cultural, figurative and linguistic factors continue to interact in an incalculable and compulsive chain of causes, effects, experiments and imitations, errors and intuitions, daily influencing the synergy between the entertainment industry and immersive design ; between visionary imagination and cognitive ability; between user, network and community, people and urban spaces, real world and transmedia practice, in an incredible diversity of conditions and application contexts: relationships and scenarios soon destined to interact with the imminent augmented and virtual reality peripherals, projecting the multipurpose concept of transmedia in theoretical and operative systems still almost entirely unexplored.

5.4.2. Last visions
Finally, the central question remains, together personal desire, visionary inspiring force and compulsive research stimulus: the curiosity, over a decade later, to imagine the story of The Road finally re-read, revised and reconsidered for a complete redesign in an immersive form by announcing the birth of an unprecedented and spectacular intellectual property.

In a digital mediasphere now immensely diverse, the contemporary need to seek immersive entertainment testifies to the collective desire to live complex and prolonged stories, to know emotional characters, to explore alternative worlds and discover unknown civilizations; to imagine utopias and phobias, to use heterogeneous tools, supports and languages ​​to build personal meanings, share ideas, strengthen commercial ties and inaugurate cultural phenomena considering the concept of entertainment in a broad sense: a synonym concept of experience, hybridization (between stories, styles, functions, roles), cataloging (encyclopedic), migration (media) personalization (of narrative choice, in-depth study[129]), affiliation, collaborative participation, appropriation and reworking of official stories and materials.

Conceiving The Road, and any other story, in a transmedia reconfiguration implies the launch of a complex process of information reengineering[130]: the entire project (classified into theoretical requirements, parametric domains, communication components and management strategies) is critically re-examined and reorganized, implemented and perfected to return, thanks to reasoned integrative modifications, to a carefully renewed information architecture, rethought in support of a specific intellectual property, ready to manifest itself in extremely competitive forms.

The execution of an information reconfiguration process concerns the study of innumerable interdisciplinary aspects, which vary according to the materials considered, design methodologies, available resources and expected commercial purposes. By simplifying the initial phase of a hypothetical re-elaboration path dedicated to The Road, the preliminary analysis of the materials must include at least three essential research operations:

  • Retrospective analysis
    The informative architecture of the story is sectioned and reinterpreted to define the founding macrostructure of the fictional world (why such a world exists and in what forms it manifests itself) by investigating its themes, original background, evolutionary phases and dystopian implications. The information collected includes historical and scientific elements, anthropological and geopolitical aspects, environmental and wildlife studies, lists of organisms, behaviours, actions and objects and other elements. The selected material also serves to reconstruct a first, detailed phenomenal timeline including dates, events, subjects, places and other indications, then cataloged in a preliminary reference guide, useful for evaluating the initial ideas up to deciding the final compilation of an authentic atlas of the imaginary world.[131]
  • Implementation margins
    In line with the materials examined (literary, cinematographic or others), the cardinal generative conditions are delimited by critically evaluating pre-existing structural elements and themes (geographical borders, chronological intervals, narrative developments, aesthetic and linguistic codes, peoples and technologies) to decide how and how much to modify the information architecture of the original world in order to increase its transmedia functions. The repeated alteration of the implementation margins of a world (e.g. the modification, even significant, of dates, background, places, subjects, or the free invention of parallel plots and unthinkable characters) is sometimes accomplished both by facilitating the narrative intersection between apparently products incompatible[132], both with the intention of totally restarting an inactive project.[133] The combinatorial operation allows to inscribe multiple intellectual properties (past, recent, incomplete, suspended) and their precious design resources, in a single, interconnected founding universe.
  • Project consolidation
    Established and recalibrated the founding parameters of the fictional world (faithfully inherited or freely modified) we proceed, with consistency criteria, to conceive a higher-order information system, to design the storage, orientation and expansion space for the entire property intellectual applying the concept of creative universe. An imaginative matrix and an all-encompassing source, the creative universe includes all the information materials conceived so far (worlds, scenarios, stories, characters), exercising a function of management control (authorial and distributive), of stylistic connotation, and of commercial diversification on any type of intellectual property eventually inserted[134]. The reasoned creation of a creative universe allows the periodic launch of autonomous and interdependent narrative branches, useful for recycling corporate resources (authors, designers, documentation), updating products, reactivating the interest of the public (stable or dormant) and creating competitive projects reworking scenic materials initially eliminated or unpublished.[135]

Once the transmedia reengineering process has been completed (based on the history-world-universe paradigm), the resulting information system has strategic design elements never considered before, now integrated.
in an intellectual property predisposed to media diversifications, and with a theoretically unlimited narrative potential available.[136]

Speaking of The Road, a priority objective is to rediscover enigmatic questions, mysteries and background within the fictional world, and transform the single original story (delimited, univocal, concluded) into a space of recursive experiences, variable in scenarios, time, space, people : a polyvalent and fascinating dystopia, depressing and heartening, inexhaustible source of events, themes, scientific simulations and anthropological investigations to be represented with realism and moral depth in an almost unique combination of theoretical requirements and design characteristics: a set of promising elements, capable of to constitute an extraordinarily atypical intellectual property, destined sooner or later to re-emerge finally restored and reinvigorated, and to influence, perhaps radically[137], the sectoral tendencies of the sci-fi domain, too often mechanically oscillating between alien invasions, sudden pandemics, dead (living) mutants and millennial monsters, androids rebels and predestined teenagers, space tragedies and biographies of indistinguishable saving superheroes.[138]

Editorial experiment and personal critical reading test, the study path dedicated to The Road, among theoretical notions, operational indications and selected projects, tried to remember the primary urgency of knowingly relating to a media scenario with a strong immersive component and, above all , to underline the availability of functional communication solutions, verified and conceived with the strategic aim of being able to synergistically combine literary origin and digital hypertext, analogue media and digital domain, traditional authorship and invasive participation, and make any story a significant project.

The re-presentation of The Road in an unprecedented immersive form implies, almost inevitably, the ideation of a media intervention to restart: a reasoned, independent and sophisticated inaugural project, certainly compatible with the original film vision of Penhall and Hillcoat[139], but necessarily free to critically discuss all previous choices (entrepreneurial, narrative, figurative, musical, promotional, editorial, distributive) and to carefully review McCarthy’s literary heritage[140], to finally be able to represent The precious creative potential of The Road in an unexpected, intriguing and spectacular transmedia configuration, celebrating broad and sure prospects for success.

The design question is still open, and perhaps it is destined to remain unanswered. But, within us, readers and spectators, users and players, the research journey has now begun.

Notes list

[1] First original edition: The Road, Knopf, New York 2006.
This document has been based on the Italian version La Strada
Super ET, Einaudi Torino 2014 (first original edition in Italian, 2007).

[2] Released in US theaters since November 25, 2009, The Road
it was previewed at the Venice Film Festival (September 3, 2009) and at the Toronto Film Festival (September 13, 2009). Speaking of promotion and distribution, Hillcoat remembers with extreme bitterness the entire bankruptcy management of The Weinstein Company, the production company. See http:/

[3] Thanks to producer Nick Wechsler, in June 2006 Hillcoat has the opportunity to preview a copy of The Road, not yet published. Deeply moved by the novel, he decided to start negotiations to make the film version.
See https:/

[4] Interview with John Hillcoat in The Making of The Road, official documentary on film production. See https:/

[5] In an interview, Cormac McCarthy reports the theory advanced by some geologists of the Santa Fe Institute (center usually frequented by the writer) indicating as the main cause of the catastrophe the impact of a meteorite, followed by devastating climate changes (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, fires perennials, floods, hurricanes) and subsequent humanitarian emergencies. The author alludes to phenomena of volcanic activity (citing the Yellowstone caldera) or to a nuclear war, but declares that he has no personal opinion, describing the matter as irrelevant. See http:/

[6] Motivating the increase of the senses of perception in extreme survival contexts, the director underlines the scene where the cannibal of the van discovers the father and the son perceiving the smell. See the technical comment (13:23).

[7] The actual locations shown in the footage include St. Helens volcano (in Washington), Lake Erie, Lake Conneaut, wooded areas in Pennsylvania, locations in New Orleans and urban areas of Pittsburgh.
A director’s diary is available on the production phases of the film story (June 2006-December 2009) including background, details and personal comments. See http:/

[8] In the novel (pp. 148–149) the man and woman are identified as members of a group of four cannibals (three men and the woman) responsible for killing a newborn baby with the intention of devouring it.
The scene was created, but then considered inappropriate and omitted from the final editing of the film project. See https:/

[9] Unlike the father, the child shows a constant and sincere predisposition to kindness, trust and solidarity towards other human beings, refusing the use of violence even in dangerous situations.

[10] “We have to watch out for the bad guys. We have to just keep carrying the fire. What fire? The fire inside you. […] Because we’re the good guys.”

[11] The father attributes a sacred and religious value to the son (“All I know is the child is my warrant, and if he is not the word of God, then God never spoke. […] He is an angel. To me, he’s a god. “[The child is my guarantee. If he is not the word of God, then God has never spoken. […] He is truly an angel. To me he is like God.]. In the novel, the child is described also as “a golden chalice suitable to host a god” (p. 58) and surrounded by “a halo of light” (pp. 210–211).

[12] During the adaptation process Joe Penhall and director John Hillcoat confronted the writer Cormac McCarty directly, evaluating together the fundamental characteristics of the original literary text. The script is available. See https:/

[13] In an interview, John Hillcoat recalls the preliminary projection, reserved for production, which lasted four hours. Considering the definitive version of the film story (111 min.), The quantity of eliminated or alternative sequences is significant. Curiously, some scenes absent in the film story (the caption of 10 years in the future; an unpublished shot with the man and the woman in the bathroom at night; an unpublished scene of father and son on the beach; a house on fire; archive material depicting fires, hurricanes and urban unrest; a man with a red scarf armed with an ax; a man as he falls to the ground in the woods; the explosion of a building etc.) are instead visible in an incongruent and poor official promo released in June 2009 by The Weinstein Company to promote The Road. See https:/

[14] The identification of themes and situations (dystopian future, survival, travel, father-son, cannibalism, escape, disease, type of environments, etc.) stimulates interesting narrative and iconographic comparisons with related products and widens the possibilities for strategic study on ways of writing, production processes and promotional initiatives in the transmedia sector.

[15] The wife gives birth to the baby a few weeks or months after the catastrophe (see segment “The Decline”, p. 8). The age of the child at the time of the trip with the father estimates the date of the disaster at 9–12 years earlier.

[16] By examining the father’s map in detail, some fragmentary references can be identified. In a first consultation (while the father describes the world; segment 4, p. 72) we distinguish the county of Neshoba (Mississipi) and the cities of Coldwater, Philadelphia, Sebastapol, Collinsville and Meridian. In a second reading (prior to arrival on the beach; segment 31, p. 82) the coastal location between Corpus Christi and Chapman Ranch (Texas), a hypothetical maritime destination, is indicated.

[17] The type of contamination is variable. See when the father washes the son in a stream (18:20), it boils and filters the water of a river (24:00) or when they both bathe in a waterfall (33:26). In the novel, father and son use cotton masks for protection purposes (p. 4).

[18] The direction, suggested by his wife, can imply the disastrous condition of other US areas (northern and eastern), or the presence of imminent dangers (collapses, fires, hurricanes, attacks).

[19] The actual filming location is the amusement park on Lake Conneaut (Pennsylvania), partially destroyed by a fire in 2008.

[20] The discovery of a live beetle by the child (just before the father’s injury; 1:28:06) represents the only form of animal life encountered during the trip (excluding the veteran’s dog), and can testify to the beginning of a gradual positive environmental change.

[21] In the book (p. 47), the cannibals of the van wear gas masks and an anti-radiation suit, elements omitted by Hillcoat to avoid references to Mad Max, the dystopian trilogy created by George Miller restarted in 2015 with a new chapter (Mad Max: Fury Road). See https:/

[22] It is not excluded that the man was the first component to sacrifice himself by having his leg amputated after a joint decision. The presence in the gang of a woman and a man of African origin (perhaps three considering also the member with the white balaclava and the driver), indicates the absence of particular forms of discrimination between the marauders (see also the man of African ethnicity visible among the cannibals of the woods, 1:12:58).

[23] Moving away from the road to urinate (13:36), the man discovers his father and the boy hidden in the woods. When the father asks “Where are you from?”, The cannibal replies “Is it important?” emphasizing the uselessness of ordinary geographical and administrative boundaries. Speaking of details, it is noted that the bandit wears a hat with the abbreviation “MKM gas”, possibly referring to a fuel company, but also, curiously, acronym for “ManKill (s) Man”; but these are personal theories. In the novel the man is described as “Like an animal hidden inside a skull that looks out through the orbits. […] and the figure of a bird tattooed on the neck […]” (p. 49). The image of a bird returns in the illustrations drawn by the child in the original house, before the trip (20:44). Regarding the meaning of the figure tattooed on the cannibal, a hypothesis can identify the animal as the symbol of a coomune or the emblem of the van band, or simply represent a personal memory of the past world.
If you look carefully at the loader of the father’s gun, you can see the drum with two bullets. However, when the man operates the hammer of the pistol, the rotation of the drum should make the bullet coincide with the barrel of the pistol, since it is ready to be expelled towards the cannibal. The fact that two bullets remain visible, suggests that the father perhaps wanted to make believe that he had three bullets in the drum, with the aim of intimidating the cannibal. In the book, at another time, the man makes fake wooden bullets darkened with soot.

[24] The amount of luggage and the number of shoes in the house can provide an estimate of the looting and kidnapping carried out by cannibals.

[25] In particular, three women and two men are distinguishable, both mutilated in one leg. A third elderly man tries to keep his father on the run to get help, stating that they will be taken to the smokehouse (referring to the cauldrons and the wooden platform with a hook positioned outside in the garden and first observed by the child; 35:49).

[26] When the boy notices the group of cannibals arriving from the window (37:35), one of the women is holding a man’s hand, making explicit a sentimental relationship or a possible parental bond.

[27] In the novel (p. 69), following a wall next to the remains of an orchard, the man and the boy discover traces of dried blood, remains of entrails
and a frieze of human heads deformed by club blows, decorated with tattoos and skinned. The frieze anticipates the passage of an armed group
cannibals arranged in rows for four and armed with pipes and spears, followed by a series of chariots (probably with human bodies) pulled by slaves in chains, about twelve women, some of whom are pregnant and a small group of catamites (men used sexually) with collar and chained (pp. 70–71).

[28] The young woman and child may have survived a previous assault in which an unknown number of refugees, or the parents of the young people themselves, were discovered to be walking in the territory guarded by the group of cannibals camped. See an official photograph of the young fugitives https:/

[29] The metaphor appears mainly in two sequences: in a first conversation (24:00), listening to the father, the child remains perplexed and thoughtful; in a second case (41:44), speaking of cannibalism and moral choices, the child deeply understands the distinction between good and evil, and concludes by holding a burning wood like a torch in his hand.

[30] See the complete transcription of the dialogues (segment 27; pp. 24–26).

[31] However, the novel (pp. 128–132) and the derived script do not contain the information: the declaration of authorship was improvised during the shooting by Robert Duvall. The sequence (1:06:57) is described by the director in the technical commentary dedicated to the film story.

[32] The hour of the catastrophe remembered by the father (1:17) can refer to a specific verse of the Bible and, in particular, to the book of Genesis: “And [God] placed them [the sun, the moon and the stars] in the firmament of the sky to lighten the Earth “. It is, perhaps, a reference to an astronomical event.

[33] In the book (p. 194) the thief underwent the amputation of all the fingers of his right hand following the expulsion from a municipality. The reference makes explicit the presence of human groups organized in stable communities.

[34] While in the film story the wife commits suicide by abandoning her
original house before leaving for the coast, in the novel (pp. 43–46) abandonment is described without spatial references. The man then recalls the woman’s presence on the street during the attempted capture of a dog, when the gun was still loaded with three bullets (p. 67). The wife may then have killed herself after a travel period (weeks or months) with her husband and son, eventually deciding to leave and use an obsidian sliver to cause a fatal bleeding (p. 45).

[35] Listening carefully to the ambient sounds (00:27) you can distinguish: bird songs, the hum of insects, the barking of a dog, a bellow, an engine, and (perhaps) the voice of a little girl.

[36] The piece is “J. S. Bach, Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord no. 3 in E major, BWV 1016. Adagio ma non troppo” performed by Ryan Franks and Harry Scorzo.

[37] Next to the bed, a bottle of wine, two glasses and perhaps the smoke of a cigarette. Ambient sounds include chirps and an irrigator.

[38] By proposing a personal hypothesis, it would be the awakening following the night of the child’s conception: the child’s place of origin (the coast, the sea) coincides with the father’s end place (life-death cycle).

[39] The sentence purposely takes up the official promotional text:
“In a moment, the world changed forever.” [In an instant the world has changed forever.]. See https:/

[40] In the background, among the series of books resting on the piano, an atlas of New Zealand is distinguishable, perhaps consulted to evaluate a possible escape away from the epicenter of the catastrophe that took place in the United States.

[41] The drawings (20:44) include: a stylized male figure with red eyes, pointed teeth and blood from the mouth; a sort of donkey, a white bird inserted in a large circle; the inscription “Kodi” (real name of the young actor Kodi Smit-McPhee), and other secondary elements.

[42] A reference to the biblical episode of Isaac’s sacrifice is perhaps sustainable, albeit with radical conceptual differences (for the father, the son is God).

[43] “This ending […] was a challenge because in the book, it goes into […] the future of when The Boy is older. So, in some ways, it’s even more optimistic in the book, in the sense that it shows that he’s lived on through the years.” Technical commentary by John Hillcoat.

[44] The closing credits indicate the man (played by Guy Pearce) as “Veteran”. The novel (p. 214) defines man “A veteran of ancient clashes, bearded, with a scar on his cheek, smashed bone and dancing eye.” and with a jaw joint problem.

[45] Punishment in a commune, stigma, or extreme condition for obtaining freedom, the amputation of the thumb remains a mystery introduced by Hillcoat, as a symbol of moral ambiguity. For a prolific discussion between spectators see https:/

[46] The brother corresponds to the child spotted by the son outside the father’s birthplace (seg. 21, p. 8) considered, however, only a hallucination.

[47] The dog barking and the footsteps heard in the night from the underground shelter (seg, 26, p. 9) can refer to the presence, on the surface, of the veteran intent on exploring the area (1:01:39). The hypothesis seems to be confirmed by the man’s wife when he informs the boy of their previous stalking (1:42:51). Otherwise, a valid unsolved mystery looms.

[48] The Star Wars an Alien, The Matrix a Harry Potter, Assassin’s Creed, Avatar, X-Men, Mad Max franchises demonstrate the degree of design complexity linked to information management in a transmedia configuration production system.

[49] [A work needs to combine radical intertextuality and multimodality for the purposes of additive comprehension to be a transmedia story.”]. Henry Jenkins, 2011. See https:/

[50] The information is the result of a selection based on summary criteria of relevance, reporting notions deemed to be a priority within the research limits of the document. The tables therefore exclude numerous visual, temporal, spatial and geographical details.

[51][A good “world” can sustain multiple characters (and their stories) and thus successfully launch a transmedia franchise.]. Henry Jenkins, 2003. See https:/

[52] See the microcosms created within the architectural and abstract spatial limits of: Rear Window (A. Hitchcock, 1954); 2001: A Space Odyssey (S. Kubrick, 1968); Solaris (A. Tarkovsky, 1972); Dog Day Afternoon (S. Lumet, 1975); The Shining (S. Kubrick, 1980); Funny Games (M. Haneke, 1997); Memento (C. Nolan, 2000); Panic Room (D. Fincher, 2002); Dogville (L. von Trier, 2003); Lebanon (S. Maoz, 2009); Moon (D. Jones, 2009); Inception (C. Nolan, 2010); The Raid (G. Evans, 2011); Snowpiercer (B. Joon-ho, 2013) and Locke (S. Knight, 2013), still fully functional to any immersive or transmedia media conversions.

[53] Inspired by Sol Yurick’s novel (The Warriors, Holt, Rinehart,
& Winston, New York 1965), the cinematographic tale of The Warriors (W. Hill, 1979) describes a story of survival and nighttime violence set in New York, in an urban context controlled by numerous criminal gangs, each characterized by territorial domain, ethnic profile, clothing, equipment, vehicles, language, symbolism, social attitude, alliances and other factors. Stories of conflicts, antagonistic factions, social tensions and disputed territories facilitate the creation of a wide variety of subjects and spaces, increasing the complexity and immersive value of the world represented. The intellectual property of The Warriors has been adapted in video game form (Rockstar Games, 2005) and is expected in a reboot television series (2017–2018). See the gangs and the video game https:/ e https:/

[54] Guest at TED, director J.J. Abrams exposes personal motivations, and high professional competence, to conceive immersive stories by studying ambiguous dialogues, serial questions, interdependent events
and unsolvable mysteries. See https:/
The desire to discover exclusive information elements and to understand the profound truths of a story influences the public to prefer certain intellectual properties. Superlative cases of extreme transmedia configuration concern the projects of Cloverfield (JJ Abrams, 2008), Super 8 (JJ Abrams, 2011), 10 Cloverfield Lane (D. Trachtenberg, 2016; produced by Abrams), God Particle (JJ Abrams, 2017) and Overlord (also by Abrams and expected in 2018), all variably interconnected through sophisticated narrative clues, and all supported with impressive promotional interventions. See an example of analysis https:/ https:/ https:/

[55] In Elysium (N. Blomkamp, ​​2013) the Earth is in ruins between calamity, demographic crisis, waste, malnutrition and poverty, while the upper social classes live protected in a luxurious orbiting space colony having uncontaminated air, androids, food and medical technologies advance, arresting and deporting any Earth refugee. In a catastrophic world, the themes of equality, freedom and justice, especially if associated with structures, territories and goods reserved for a limited group of subjects, become fundamental reasons for conflict, investigation, travel, heroism, alliance, salvation, inheritance. See https:/

[56] This is the case of two relevant advertising shorts dedicated to the recent conflict in Syria. See https:/ e https:/

[57] Twisted and illusory development stories force the viewer to question the perceived narrative truth by researching and comparing information on the Net. Sometimes, the unsolved mysteries of an original story become the founding elements of a secondary story by proposing new narrative branches based on recursive puzzles. The in-depth study of unexpected mysteries, questions and revelations increases the interest and media visibility of a project and rewards the entire intellectual property. Revealing scenes and shocking truths appear in Psycho (A. Hitchcock, 1960), Planet of the Apes (F. Schaffner, 1968), Solaris (A. Tarkovsky, 1972), Brazil (T. Gilliam, 1985), The Usual Suspects ( B. Singer, 1995), Dark City (A. Proyas, 1998), The Truman Show (P. Weir, 1998), Fight Club (D. Fincher, 1999), The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan, 1999), Existenz (D. Cronenberg, 1999), Vanilla Sky (C. Crowe, 2000), Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan, 2000), Memento (C. Nolan, 2000), Donnie Darko (R. Kelly, 2001), Mulholland Drive (D. Lynch, 2001), Spider (D. Cronenberg, 2002), Lost (JJ Abrams, D. Lindelof, 2004–2010), The Machinist (B. Anderson, 2004), Secret Window (D. Koepp, 2004) , Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (M. Gondry, 2004), The Prestige (C. Nolan, 2006), Inside Man (S. Lee, 2006), Lucky Number Slevin (P. McGuigan, 2006), Atonement (J. Wright, 2007), Moon (D. Jones, 2009), Repo Men (M. Sapochnik, 2010), Black Swan (D. Aronofsky, 2010), Shutter Island (M. Scorsese, 2010), Source Code (D. Jones, 2011), Oblivion (J. Kosinski, 2013), The Maze Runner (W. Ball, 2014), The Signal (W. Eubank, 2014), Mr Robot (S. Esmail, 2015-) and Westworld (J. Nolan, L. Joy; 2016). For other examples see https:/

[58] By integrating famous readapted songs and replicable choreography, the award-winning music and choral TV series Glee (2009–2015) generated an international emulation phenomenon by converting television materials into complementary modes (traveling shows and a documentary) and influencing the sale of millions of music tracks. As regards promotion in the musical field, the development of projects with an immersive narrative component evolves by contaminating cinematographic narration and transmedia, between authorial reinterpretation, enigmatic abstraction and integrated communication. See some examples https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/

[59] Stopping to look, probably, at the Atlantic ocean (1:18:15), the boy asks his father: “What’s on the other side?”. “Nothing,” replies the man. When the child insists “There must be something”, the father replies “Maybe there is a father with his son and they are on a beach too”.

[60] The literary text includes the rapid inspection of a locomotive and eight passenger carriages found in a wood (pp. 136–137).

[61] In the novel (p. 50), the cannibals of the van carry fifty-five tanks of diesel of three liters each (165 liters total), perhaps requisitioned in a recent violent action, moved from a secret deposit to an encampment, perhaps transported for bartering purposes with other bands, or simply kept on board as a primary asset.

[62] An example of a collective journey elevated to an epic undertaking, the fantastic themed trilogies of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit [The Hobbit] (P. Jackson, 2001–2003; 2012–2014) represent a sophisticated case of diversified and interdependent narrative intersections.

[63] Significant and prototypical is the plot of Lost (2004–2010), a peculiar television series continuously recalibrated on the basis of present events, recursive mysteries, individual memories, found objects, historical parentheses, future advances and temporal distortions, in a totally unpredictable development. A detailed interactive timeline edited by the New York Times illustrates the different narratives and includes exclusive interviews with creators Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. See https:/

[64] “I can’t talk about it. Not with you. That’s for sure.” (1:09:29)

[65] “He had been expelled from a commune and they had cut his fingers
of the right hand. He was trying to hide it behind his back. “ (p. 194).

[66] The phrase said by one of the cannibals of the van, “Come on, we can’t stop much!” (13:55; clearly distinguishable only in Italian dialogues and strangely absent in English and Italian subtitles), it can refer to their transit in a hostile territory, perhaps controlled or supervised by a rival group. The possession of a heavy vehicle, weapons, fuel, and the presence of a large number of bandits (12; hypothetical Christian figure) identifies the cannibals of the street as the most important criminal gang known in The Road. It is noteworthy that an apparently abandoned parked car is visible in the garden of the cannibals of the house (35:35), perhaps a reason for negotiations with the band of the van to exchange fuel for clothes, ammunition or prisoners. Alternatively, quite simply, the phrase recalls the imminent twilight (5:47 pm) and the intent to avoid staying in the street during the night: a forced choice instead after the failed attempt to capture father and son. See when (19:40 and p.54), the next morning, the man returns to the street alone to retrieve the trolley: “Those of the pickup truck had camped directly on the street. They had lit a fire […]” .

[67] In The Hateful Eight (Q. Tarantino, 2015), the revelation of an unthinkable subject inaugurates the vision of a scenic time before
facts present, entirely rewriting the information value. Batman V Superman (Z. Snyder, 2016) is instead conceived by revealing the point of view of an invisible observer (the co-star Bruce Wayne / Batman) arbitrarily invented, in the form of an eyewitness, in a final sequence of Man Of Steel (Z. Snyder, 2013). See https:/

[68] An elementary narrative solution can reveal the existence of an invisible subject intent on observing the father and son with binoculars.

[69] Hillcoat recalls the conflicting relationship he had with The Weinstein Company, responsible for serious logistical dysfunctions during the promotion and distribution phase of The Road, released in the US only in about 100 cinemas, severely penalizing its media visibility and financial goals. See https:/

[70] Case study practically unique, Disney’s Disney Zoo in Orlando (Florida) simulates a visit to the alien world of Avatar, Pandora, including floating rock structures, exotic vegetation, environmental sounds, waterfalls, Na’vi artifacts, a bioluminescent rainforest, excursions, competitions, musical instruments, culinary initiatives and creative workshops, transforming intellectual property, and the imaginary world introduced to cinema, into a real exploratory experience. Similar design perspective is shared by Ubisoft, committed to building a large Assassin’s Creed theme park in Malaysia scheduled to open in 2020. See https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/ e https:/

[71] Part of a series of Google short films, Help (J. Lin, 2016) describes the arrival of a monstrous alien creature in Los Angeles by reproducing
in subjective pursuits and destruction. Another project is Pearl (P. Osborne, 2016), the first virtual reality work nominated for the Oscar awards, proposes the intimate story of a journey shared between father and daughter. See https:/ e https:/
Produced in collaboration with Samsung, in The Martian VR Experience (R. Stromberg, 2016) the user impersonates the astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) reliving in a subjective view the main events represented in The Martian (R. Scott, 2015). Similarly, the promotional initiative for the theatrical release of Goosebumps [Little Chills] (R. Letterman, 2015), Goosebumps VR Adventure, (also directed by Letterman and produced by Sony) involves the user in an adrenaline scene alongside the protagonist R.L. Stine (Jack Black), fleeing the car from a surreal giant praying mantis who appeared in the city. For relevant video game projects, Robinson: The Journey (Crytek, 2016 for PlayStation VR), Lone Echo (Ready At Dawn, 2017 for Oculus Rift) and Farpoint (Impulse Gear, 2017) are all dedicated to spatial survival experiences. See https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/
The series of in-depth videos of Fantastic Beasts (D. Yates, 2016) retraces the period of filming transforming the vision into a scenic experience of virtual exploration. A related official application, conceived exclusively for the Google Daydream VR device, allows you to play the leading magician by exploring the laboratory and carrying out experiments. See https:/ https:/

[72] See Comcast, Viacom, Walt Disney, Time Warner and Sony with their affiliates, managed by optimizing production processes, differentiating the commercial sectors and cyclically readjusting the proprietary content.

[73] […] A story might be introduced in a film, expanded through television, novels, and comics, and its world might be explored and experienced through game play […] picking up new consumers. See https:/ https:/

[74] Transmedia extension for the TV series of Mr. Robot (S. Esmail, 2015-),
the book RedWheelBarrow reproduces the personal handwritten diary of Elliot, the protagonist, complete with daily chronicles, notes and comments, corrections, burns, artifacts and narrative clues concerning the third television season (2017). See https:/

[75] History and journey of a child scientist, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet (Reif Larsen, Penguin Press 2009) includes notes, tables, diagrams and scientific illustrations. See https:/

[76] Two enigmatic short films have anticipated the printed publication of S. Ship of Theseus (2013) by referring to a promotional site.
See https:/ https:/ https:/

[77] Synergistic collaborations concern S. Ship of Theseus (Headcase Design, Melcher Media, Mulholland Books and Bad Robot Productions, 2013), NY Collapse [Collapse in New York] (Chronicle Books, Melcher Media and Ubisoft, 2016) and The Case of Beasts ( Warner Bros., MinaLima, 2016). We also remember the commercial collaboration between Lionsgate and Samsung by celebrating the imaginary Capitol Couture fashion house (present in Hunger Games) in a digital editorial initiative (2015). See https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/ e https:/ e https:/

[78] The author dedicated the novel to his youngest son born in 1998, remembering his fundamental co-authorial role during the first ever television interview. Vedi https:/

[79] Objects conceived by recalling literary elements, films or invented situations: geographical map (position and territorial conformation), photographs (degree, marriage, relatives), drawings (father dreams and child trauma), bird’s feather (animal extinction), newspaper clippings (catastrophic background), banknotes, driving license and credit card (economic system), receipt (food emergency), prescription (antidepressant drugs), driving license and train ticket (transport and national borders), farewell letter (never delivered) , telephone book page (family and friends), musical score (remember wife and cultural system).

[80] This is the case of Lemony Snicket (pseudonym of Daniel Handler), author-narrator-protagonist of A Series of Unfortunate Events (HarperCollins, 1999; pr. Ed. It. Salani, 2000) composed of 13 novels , partly adapted into film story (B. Silberling, 2004), video game (Adrenium Games, 2004), board game (Mattel, 2004) and television series (Netflix, 2017). See https:/

[81] The promotion of James Patterson’s Private Vegas novel (Penguin Random House, 2015) included the free release of 1000 copies in digital version programming the self-destruction of the text after 24 hours. The application integrated a simulated satellite map to view other users live, compare reading speed, explosion risk and sabotage competitors by subtracting their time. In addition to the virtual domain, a special hard copy of the book with real explosives was sold (at a cost of $ 294,038), attached to a private flight to an unknown location, a two-night stay in a luxury hotel, gold binoculars and a complete dinner with the author, to finally witness the explosion of the book together with a team of bomb squads. https:/ https:/

[82] For example, by providing a television contest with the famous survival expert Bear Grylls (protagonist of the TV show Man Vs Wild) to relive the extreme conditions of The Road survival journey. See https:/ https:/ https:/

[83] The cinematographic cases of Harry Potter (8 film stories produced between 2001 and 2011) and of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (D. Yates, 2016; first chapter of an expected independent pentalogy) testify the large commercial extension to transmedia system originated from the famous novels of JK Rowling.

[84] The productions of Batman Begins (C. Nolan, 2005), Man of Steel (Z. Snyder, 2013), Godzilla (G. Edwards, 2014), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (J. Liebesman, 2014), Fantastic Four (J. Trank, 2015), Ghostbusters (P. Feig, 2016), Kong: Skull Island (J. Vogt-Roberts, 2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (J. Watts, 2017), The Mummy (A. Kurtzman, 2017) , Jumanji (J. Kasdan, 2017) derive from partial or total narrative reformulations.

[85] The values ​​represented in the graphs are to be considered totally random and exemplary. In a possible analytical study dedicated, an adequate system of numerical ratios will have to be defined, sometimes variable according to the type of parameter to be quantified (scale, figure, percentage, km2, cubic meter).

[86] On a cinematographic level, the sophisticated time management in Memento (C. Nolan, 2000), Inception (C. Nolan, 2010) and Interstellar
(C. Nolan, 2014), destined to confuse the viewer between debilitating recursive amnesias, conflicts in dreamlike worlds and space-time paradoxes.

[87] The Dawson’s Creek series (Warner Bros / Sony, 1998–2003) integrated collateral computer domains simulating operating systems, folders, documents, images and personal conversations of the protagonists, offering the public original material updated during the programming period. We also remember the brilliant promotion of The Blair Witch Project (D. Myrick, E. Sánchez; 1999), which has become a prototype model of viral and transmedia communication. See https:/ https:/

[88] Twin Peaks (D. Lynch, 1990–1991 and 2017-), The X-Files (1993–2002 and 2016), The Sopranos (HBO, 1999–2007), Lost (ABC, 2004–2010), Mad Men (AMC , 2007–2015), Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008–2013), Boardwalk Empire (HBO, 2010–2014), Games of Thrones (HBO, 2011-), Homeland (Showtime, 2011) and Black Mirror (C. Brooker, 2011-) testify to the narrative and qualitative tendencies sought in television.

[89] Westworld (M. Crichton, 1973), The Warriors (W. Hill, 1979), 12 Monkeys (T. Gillian, 1995), Fargo (J. and E. Coen, 1996), The Truman Show (P. Weir, 1998 ), Snatch (G. Ritchie, 2000), From Hell (A. and A. Hughes, 2001), Minority Report (S. Spielberg, 2002), Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (B. Silberling, 2004), The Illusionist (N. Burger, 2006), Taken (P. Morel, 2008), Shutter Island (M. Scorsese, 2010), Limitless (N. Burger, 2011), Snowpiercer (B. Joon-ho, 2013) include recent o future adaptations in television form.

[90] Conceived as an authentic computer encyclopedia, Pandorapedia describes the anthropological and geophysical characteristics of Pandora, the primitive alien environment represented in Avatar (J. Cameron, 2009). The user can learn about the Na’vi indigenous civilization, study plant and animal species, technology and human colonial operations, and consult a Na’vi language dictionary. In addition to textual materials, the short documentary Pandora Discovered simulates a guided exploration of the world. See https:/ https:/

[91] Created on September 22, 2005 by Kevin Croy, a passionate spectator, Lostpedia is a self-managed domain focused on the television series Lost (2004–2010). Born to collect scenic materials for analysis and dissemination purposes, it includes over 7000 articles and has over 80 million visits. See https:/

[92] By proposing an astronomical metaphor, if a single product (called “star”) is connected to another product, a set of interrelated stories emerges (several “stars” united in a thematic “constellation”), coexisting in a world identified by precise coordinates discursive and stylistic (ex: the world of Avatar). The formulation of new stars and constellations (e.g. a film quadrilogy and adaptation in a television series), or the integration of additional constellations (e.g. a videogame trilogy and a literary saga) connects different types of constellations (sometimes also set in diverging worlds), forming a superior grouping unit, an entity inclusive of all the products created and future: a “creative universe”, then convertible into a “hypermedia galaxy”, interconnected, all-encompassing and constantly expanding. For a comic book transmedia example see https:/

[93] Recalling the documentary initiatives (real and fictional) proposed by 20th Century Fox and National Geographic to promote The Revenant (A. González Iñárritu, 2015) and The Martian (R. Scott, 2015).
See https:/ https:/

[94] The Doritos and Mountain Dew brands routinely carry out commercial initiatives for the video games of World of Warcraft, Halo, Call of Duty and Titanfall, offering exclusive advantages through purchase codes. For the recent case of Titanfall 2 see https:/

[95] Set in a historic theme park, the Westworld television series
(J. Nolan, L. Joy; 2016-) provides a promotional IT domain conceived by simulating a real tourist site, with introductory texts, logistical and topographical map, a virtual assistant and the possibility of booking a stay (similar to the project created for Jurassic World, in 2015) with related contract. In another domain, you access a communication panel of Delos Corporation, the company owner of Westworld, browsing an electronic archive of notices, notifications, IT procedures and personal messages sent internally by employees: exclusive materials deliberately omitted from the main television story and made available to the interpretative processes of the public. The dispersion of transmedia content fills the active weekly interval after each episode (or the usual annual break between different programming seasons) and transforms the waiting time into an agitated collective analysis phase, prolonging a constant participatory entertainment process until next TV date, and beyond. Vedi https:/ https:/

[96] The Prometheus transmedia promotion began in July 2011
(R. Scott, 2012), internationally awarded, continues to feed theories and expectations related to the next Alien: Covenant (R. Scott, 2017), to a future fifth chapter of Alien (perhaps directed by Neil Blomkamp), to the following two short stories scheduled for Prometheus and the continuation of Blade Runner (R. Scott, 1982), entitled Blade Runner 2049 (D. Villeneuve, 2017), the first chapter of a new trilogy. The combination of images, interviews and previews published constantly through social platforms has kept the public active for over 5 years.

[97] Like the ten-year wait for the second Avatar (2020) and the official video game currently entrusted to Ubisoft. See https:/

[98] The promotional site WhoIsMrRobot [ChiÈMrRobot], dedicated to the television series Mr. Robot (S. Esmail, 2015-), reproduces the computer terminal with Linux operating system used by the protagonist Elliot Alderson, a young engineer and hacker affected by mental disorders. To interact, the user can type specific commands in an active window, open the folders in the background displaying scans of documents, photographs, technical instructions, or start a video game programmed by fsociety, the anarchist collective founded by Elliot. The experience of the site refers to a parallel playful story in Mr. Robot, 1.5.exfiltrati0n, an application for mobile devices: after picking up an abandoned telephone in Coney Island, the user is automatically registered with the messaging system of the multinational E-Corp , and involved in an intense traffic of communications: ambiguous messages, conversations between colleagues, exchange of photographs and multiple choice choices involve the user in an articulated and unpredictable textual narrative. The vision experience continues through Mr. Robot Virtual Reality Experience (13:03), a short film in virtual reality dedicated to reproducing the appointment between Elliot and Shayla, a young neighbour and drug dealer to whom he habitually addresses himself. Finally, the official website of Usa Network (the television network distributing the series) presents content updated daily: news, interviews, in-depth videos, photo galleries, summaries, revelations and accessories that can be purchased complete the wide range of entertainment. See https:/ https:/ https:/

[99] The war-themed first-person video game Escape from Tarkov (BattleState Games, 2017) integrates plausible physiological parameters of the soldier (hydration, blood pressure, fatigue, injury, intoxication, tremors etc.), affecting the game’s performance. The project included three-dimensional scans of real military operators to record physical data in detail during tactical maneuvers, exercises and fire sessions. Postural movements, ballistic factors and original sounds were then integrated into a photorealistic graphic system, creating an unprecedented phenomenal and environmental level. See https:/

[100] Sophisticated videogame narrative models with a strong cinematographic connotation, Heavy Rain (Quantic Dream, 2010), L.A. Noire (Team Bondi / Rockstar Games, 2011), Beyond: Two Souls (Quantic Dream, 2013), Life Is Strange (Dontnod Entertainment, 2015) and Detroit: Become Human (Quantic Dream, expected in 2017/2018) reproduce actions and behaviors human transforming elementary gestures into operations
of fundamental game. See https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/

[101] Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar Games, 2013), Watch Dogs (Ubisoft, 2014), Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Kojima Productions, 2015), Assassin’s are among the numerous third-party videogame projects characterized by complex virtual environments. Creed Sindycate (Ubisoft, 2015), Rise of The Tomb Raider (Eidos Montreal, 2015), Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog, 2016), Dark Soul III (FromSoftware, 2016), Mafia III (2K Games, 2016) . In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda, 2011), Fallout 4 (Bethesda, 2015) and Star Wars Battlefront (EA DICE, 2015) the user can freely change the point of view during the game (with third person shooting or in subjective). Famous titles such as Half Life 2 (Valve, 2004), Killzone (Guerrilla Games, 2004), Prey (Human Head Studios, 2006), Bioshock (Irrational Games, 2007), Crysis (Crytek, 2007), Dishonored (Arkane Studios, 2012 ) and the recent Far Cry Primal (Ubisoft, 2016), Battlefield 1 (DICE, 2016) and Doom (id Software, 2016) equally demonstrate the excellent and surprising features of the subjective view. For an example of a large third-person scenario see https:/ https:/

[102] In The Order 1886 (Ready At Dawn, 2016) in case of injury, the vital energy of the character is indicated by an increasing amount
of blood visible on clothes and then amplified by consequent motor difficulties. See https:/

[103] Part of the prototype and complex transmedia project created by the brothers Laurence and Andrew Wachowsky in 1999, the video game Enter The Matrix (Shiny Entertainment, 2003) integrates exclusive and unedited filmed sequences to tell the parallel stories of Niobe and Ghost, linking their videogame experiences directly the original film trilogy, specifically the second film chapter, The Matrix Reloaded (L. and A. Wachowsky, 2003). See https:/

[104] The videogame expansion chapter of The Last of Us: Left Behind (Naughty Dog, 2014) retraces simultaneous time intervals to the main story (presented a year earlier in The Last of Us), revealing the personal background of Ellie, the teenage protagonist. See the full game session https:/

[105] See the controllable pigeon in Battlefield 1 (2016) https:/

[106] In Bioshock (Irrational Games, 2007) the player finds and listens to the tapes engraved by the citizens of the city of Rapture. https:/

[107] The Division (Massive / Ubisoft, 2016) includes 5 narrative expansions: 2 free missions (Incursions, Conflict) and 3 paid downloadable packages (Underground, Survival, Last Stand), released covering a whole year of promotional activity. See https:/

[108] As evidenced by the prototype virtual projects curated by Fox Innovation Lab, (Wild — The Experience; F. Lajeunesse, P. Raphael, 2015), The Martian VR Experience; R. Stromberg, R. Scott, 2016) and from ILMxLAB (Rogue One: Recon; G. Edwards / ILMxLAB, 2016). Integrative virtual experiences are planned for Alien Covenant (R. Scott, 2017) and War of The Planet of The Apes (M. Reeves, 2017). Other relevant examples include A Journey To The Arctic (Mediamonks / Greenpeace, 2016), Bashir’s Dream (Ryot, 2017) and My Brother’s Keeper (PBS, 2017). https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/

[109] Google (Daydream), Sony (Playstation VR), Facebook (Oculus Rift), HTC / Steam (Vive), Samsung (VR Gear Set), Microsoft (HoloLens), Starbreeze, and related affiliates, continue to invest in the domain.
virtual development of proprietary tools and establishing strategic partnerships to optimize commercial offer plans with peripherals and exclusive entertainment products. See https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/

[110] Movie theatres conceived as virtual reality centres to innovate the ways of involving the public and inaugurate new business models continue to emerge. Considerable is the prospect of economic development of the entertainment company IMAX Corporation, owner of a dedicated investment fund of 50 million dollars. https:/ https:/

[111] Special wearable devices such as tactical bodices transform the acoustic signals of a media product (cinematographic, videogame, musical) into tactile impulses (vibrations and pulsations) increasing the physical-bodily sensation of environmental realism perceived during the experience. For an example see https:/ https:/

[112] For the promotion of the video game South Park: The Fractured But Whole [South Park: Di-retti Clash], Ubisoft previewed at Gamescon 2016 the crazy Nosulus Rift, nasal peripheral for virtual reproduction of peti and unpleasant smells, central elements in the video game. https:/

[113] Through the official application of Inception (C. Nolan, 2010), the user transforms recorded noises and sounds into environmental distortions by simulating a series of dreamlike atmospheres combined with motion sensors and musical extracts. To deepen the search for extreme sound realism also for entertainment purposes, see the notion of binaural audio. https:/ https:/

[114] Citing an Italian example, the paper manual by Bruti (Gipi/Rulez, 2015), a collectible card game conceived and illustrated by Gipi (Gian Alfonso Pacinotti), includes an introductory comic strip to the fictional world. https:/

[115] Inspired by the fantasy world of role-playing third-person video games
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Cd Project Red, 2015), Gwent (Cd Project Red, 2017) transposes traditional collectible card competitions into a digital challenge with effects and animations. See https:/

[116] Completed in just 27 days reaching the figure of 3,771,474 pounds (compared to the 50,000 officially fixed) donated by 31,178 users, the Kickstarter funding campaign of Steamforged Games and Bandai Namco for the creation of a board game inspired by the Dark videogame series Souls (born in 2011) testifies to the primary role of the public and the need to responsibly expand the commercial presence of an intellectual property. https:/

[117] [So stories and games are intimately connected because they’re two sides of the same impulse. Stories give rise to play, and play gives rise to stories]. Frank Rose interviewed by Henry Jenkins, 2011. https:/

[118] As for the official board games based on the television series of
The Walking Dead (AMC 2010-; Cryptozoic Entertainment, 2011–2017). https:/ https:/

[119] Born in 1983, the historic Warhammer collectible miniatures game
it is set in a fantastic world of armies and civilizations in perpetual conflict.
In addition to thousands of sculptural models produced through an affiliated company, intellectual property includes rule manuals, pictorial technique guides, historical novels and special books dedicated to individual armies, describing their mythology, origins, anthropological, war and many other information, in an extraordinary example of immersive study. The collateral series of Warhammer 40,000 is set in a futuristic-themed fantasy world and further multiplies miniatures, armies, stories, geographies and related editorial materials. See https:/
Collectively funded, Scythe’s strategy game (Stonemaier Games, 2016) introduces an original intellectual property set in a uchronic Europe after the First World War, between competing nations and clashes with armies equipped with giant metal automatons. World, history, illustrations, maps and artifacts reveal an extremely accurate design execution. https:/

[120] Citing a video game example, Detroit’s distinctive game mechanic: Become Human (Quantic Dream, scheduled for 2017/2018) takes up the narrative dynamics typical of role-playing games (remembering the historical analogical case of Dungeons & Dragons, created in 1974) providing numerous choices available to the player to radically change the evolution of the story. The user is generally so intrigued to reiterate the game operations and to evaluate their variables. https:/ https:/

[121] The theory of the transmedia phenomenon includes a series of similar communicative conditions called by researchers with synonyms, compound terms and neologisms, all equally useful for indicating compatible design meanings and properties. For a brief introduction, the written presentation by Jeff Gomez (president of Starlight Runner) easily summarizes the main theoretical and operational issues. See https:/

[122] The historical research of prototypical immersive models crosses the texts of Homer, the sacred writings and the Divine Comedy up to the novels of Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens, L. Frank Baum, Mark Twain, JR Tolkien, William Faulkner, CS Lewis and other author figures. https:/

[123] In 2013, in California, the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and J.G. Cooney Center funded the “T is for Transmedia” research initiative
[T is for Transmedia] dedicated to studying transmedial educational principles and methods in school age (5–11 years), and to investigate the relationship between play, storytelling and learning by stimulating children to interact with differentiated artifacts by assessing their cognitive abilities, behaviors and problems of access to knowledge. See

[124] [We now live in a moment where every story, image, brand, relationship plays itself out across the maximum number of media platforms. […] The result has been the push towards franchise-building in general
and transmedia entertainment in particular.]. Henry Jenkins, 2011. https:/

[125] Like Google, Intel, Facebook, Sony, Magic Leap, Microsoft and many other companies, Time Warner has set up an investment fund (equal to 27 million dollars) to start competing in the virtual domain, with particular interest in holographic reproduction. See https:/

[126] The famous intellectual properties of Star Wars (created by George Lucas in 1977) and Pokémon (born in Japan in 1996) exemplify the intergenerational success factor. Another important phenomenon concerns
the Disney company, intent on arbitrarily restarting its animation tales in the form of cinematographic feature films with communicative devices rethought for immersive purposes. Ex: Cinderella (K. Branagh, 2015); The Jungle Book (J. Favreau, 2016); Beauty and The Beast (B. Condon, 2017). See https:/ https:/

[127] [This new mode of storytelling is transforming not just entertainment (the stories that are offered to us for enjoyment) but also advertising (the stories marketers tell us about their products) and autobiography (the stories we tell about ourselves.]. F. Rose, The Art of Immersion, Norton, W. W. & Company, 2011. (Prologo, p. 3). https:/

[128] The official exhibition (internationally itinerant) dedicated to the creative background of The Hunger Games, including scenographic recreations, interactive installations, costumes, scenic objects, maps, holograms, scientific descriptions, choreographic simulations, educational school courses (including teachers’ manuals) , promotional items (stationery, furnishings, clothing) and a mobile summary application, defines a paradigmatic case for assessing the cultural and cognitive potential intrinsic to transmedia systems. See https:/

[129] It means the hypothesis of letting the user freely decide the development of a story (in multiple multiples and alternatives) by exercising direct control through the application. The companies Netflix, Apple, HBO have declared their intention to study innovative ways of interactive television entertainment. See https:/

[130] Made in July 2011 in collaboration with Screen Australia (the Australian federal agency for the audiovisual industry) the guide
for the creation of transmedia projects [How To Write A Transmedia Production Bible] written by Gary P. Hayes examines and summarizes the five main stages of development of a transmedia project by offering information and analysis models on the production processes of cross-platform entertainment. See https:/

[131] In addition to being an indispensable internal source of consultation reserved for designers, the archived material collected is re-usable in the editorial field for the creation of in-depth design books (sold in special or limited edition) with interviews, illustrations and exclusive content. See https:/ https:/

[132] An example of theoretical affinity concerns the Westworld television series (J. Nolan, L. Joy; 2016-) and the film anthology of Jurassic Park, both intellectual properties created by the writer Michael Crichton. Common information elements reveal a remote narrative intersection between the two worlds, leaving any margins of creative intervention open. For a comparative analysis see https:/

[133] Begun in a first videogame story (Human Head Studios, 3D Realms; 2006) and then officially announced in a second chapter never realized, Prey’s intellectual property has been re-proposed, after eleven years, in a new videogame version completely rewritten (Prey; Arkane Studios, 2017) managing to make a radical, accurate and award-winning example of a full commercial restart. https:/ https:/

[134] Example: a universe X can integrate the intellectual properties A, B, C, D and their related worlds A1, B1, C1, D1 (and subsequent declinations) by developing divergent and even completely heterogeneous media experiences, but still attributable to a single semantic framework original (e.g. the structure of a hypothetical dystopian-themed universe common to Children of Men + The Road + Mad Max + Waterworld).

[135] An entertainment company with significant intellectual properties inscribed in proprietary universes has an invaluable creative and financial heritage to create transmedia projects and manage their distribution licenses (see Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm, DC, 21st Century Fox, Sony).

[136] Changing ordinary technological and physical-mathematical limits (through time travel, space distortions, dream experiences, virtual or other simulations) facilitates the creation of stories with unlimited variability.
An indicative case is the videogame and film series of Assassin’s Creed (owned by Ubisoft) cyclically altered reliving the centuries-old genetic memory of the multiple protagonists. See https:/

[137] The choice to represent an unprecedented issue can positively re-evaluate an apparently ordinary theme. Among the many quotable examples (including the television series Stranger Things, Black Mirror, The OA), the sci-fi story of Arrival (D. Villeneuve, 2016) describes the traditional theme of a meeting between human civilization and alien organisms, however introducing an unprecedented issue of interspecies communication focused on themes of language philosophy, psychology, mathematics and anthropology (including the creation of a special alien sign system).
When a project manages to develop an unprecedented creative vision despite a now overused central theme, then the theoretical requirements of a work destined to become relevant and influential are created. https:/ e https:/

[138] Deadpool (T. Miller, 2016) and Logan (J. Mangold, 2017) have introduced significant changes (narrative, linguistic, figurative, aesthetic, musical) representing beings with extraordinary powers with explicit dialogues, metacommunication interventions, themes, stories and choices unusual figurative. In Italy, related cases include The Invisible Boy (G. Salvatores, 2014) and Lo Chiamavano Jeeg Robot (G. Mainetti, 2016). https:/ https:/ https:/ https:/

[139] Sometimes, especially after years, entrusting the development of internal projects to intellectual property to distinct authorial figures (celebrities or emerging talents) can favour useful stylistic diversifications (expanding the types of compatible audiences) and profitable opportunities for commercial restart (in coincidence of historical collaborations or other events). However, the interpretative choice requires a careful evaluation of the limits of creative license applied to the fictional world and universe, establishing a precise balance between the invariability of the original materials and the executive freedoms of the individual professionals involved.

[140] McCarthy’s possible participation (at least in the conceptual phase) in a hypothetical transmedia project suggests a high level of creative comparison between author and designers. The creation of exclusive interviews, technical comments, archival films and other special initiatives (e.g. an unpublished preface for the reprint of The Road; the reading of literary extracts; a promotional short film) is logically desirable. In general, if converted correctly, any question of production (technical aspects, sets, lighting, tailoring, choices of artistic direction, posters, musical composition, creation of special effects, etc.) can be usefully proposed for promotional purposes.
For a recent example, see the official in-depth documentary dedicated to the analogue shooting format used in The Hateful Eight (Q. Tarantino, 2016) https:/

Study method and sources
This document is the result of a compilation process created with scientific and accessibility requirements. Special care has therefore been devoted to coherently structuring the texts and analysis sections, to selecting functional visual devices, and to providing verified information by correctly citing sources of documentation, with the final objective of sharing useful material for the purposes of study, criticism and information.References to all the sources consulted have been inserted using numbers in square brackets [] and reported in the references at the conclusion, with the relative explanatory notes. The hyperlinks’ accessibility was verified on May 2017, when originally published.

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