When books get turned into movies, there’s usually little added to the original story. But with interactive apps, the narrative doesn’t have to be dumbed down or retold. Instead it can be explored from a different angle to expand the audience’s understanding of a fictional world. The Chasing Salander iPhone app lets you dive deeper into Stieg Larson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and the rest of the Millenium crime novel series. The app’s 14 scenes tell the untold story of a hitman hunting for protagonist Lisbeth Salander. It features 30 minutes of narration of a specially commissioned script, as well as photographs, maps, and hidden facts.
Norstedts, the first publisher of the Swedish books, received approval to develop the app from the family that owns the rights to the novels. The iOS app’s $4.99 price point may be a little steep. Still, it’s cheaper than what you’ll pay to see the American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo film that’s currently in theaters. Update: Apparently in response to me saying the app was overpriced, it’s been reduced to $0.99 until Friday January 13th, 2012.
The app’s project manager Klas Fjärstedt tells me the Chasing Salander story’s hitman was hired by the secret police force The Section from the series’ third-book. “He’s following a step behind Lisbeth Salander. You get a new story, and it works whether or not you’ve read all the books or seen the movies.”
An eerie ambient soundscape for each scene gives the app an immersive feel. As you listen to the gritty, expressive narration you can tilt your device to pan within the photographs of Swedish locales where the story takes place. I’m not even a fan of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but I quickly found myself engrossed in the mystery.
Apps are media now. Publishers, film studios, and all artistic intellectual property owners should be thinking how to take advantage of the mobile device as a distribution medium. Through companion apps like Chasing Salander, they can create lucrative additional revenue streams, strengthen loyalty of existing fans, and hold the world’s attention between releases. Best of all, apps can promote a primary product by augmenting it, not just repackaging it.