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Transmedia from literature: Peter Pan

A case study: Peter Pan

The original story of Peter and Wendy was created in 1902 by Scottish author J. M. Barrie. It was a fairy tale that, employing the OSMU model, was adapted as a feature film in 1924 and 2003, and into a Walt Disney animated feature in 1953.

Each incarnation incorporated Barrie’s original story, placing Peter Pan in the main role, but when Disney opted to release Tinker Bell (2008) and Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (2009), the supporting character Tinker Bell was instead brought to the forefront. In each of these two films, the story of Tinker Bell is cultivated from that of Peter Pan, demonstrating the need for an original background narrative in transmedia storytelling.

A central background narrative presents audiences or users with additional information about a character’s origins or physical and chronological background, relieving any curiosity that might emerge after viewing an offshoot story on its own.

The story of Tinker Bell is not a segment of the Peter Pan narrative, but an entirely new story, with new fairy characters that did not exist in the previous incarnation of the universe. Similarly, Tinker Bell’s physical setting is not Peter Pan’s Neverland but Pixie Hollow, an unfamiliar part of Neverland, introducing audiences to the fairies’ origins and taking them through the seasons of their world. This new information satisfies the audience’s desire to know more about Tinker Bell’s background, enriching its understanding of the Peter Pan and Neverland universe.

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Transmedia Storytelling

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