During the film, the audience would be asked to choose the direction of the story. According to an outline for the project written by Jim and Lisa, Miles was a small boy with a fear of fish who, "...doesn't mean to get into trouble, but when there is an opportunity to be mischievous, he almost always takes it." His life in the real world and on an island of monsters would include original songs, and at five different points, the story would diverge and the audience would be able to influence what happens next. Based on the choices made by the audience, seventy-two different variations of the film would be possible.
The mechanics of producing a variable story were cumbersome. A curated entry of the Jim Henson's Red Book blog described the logistics, stating: "in 1980, this would have required multiple projectors and an agile projectionist." Years later, Lisa Henson described the logistics of showing a nonlinear story stating: "the concept was you make a movie on a laserdisc, and then a computer program would drive it to play different bits of the disc depending on what choice was made . . . but it wasn't possible to do it on a commercial filmmaking level." It would take more than a decade before the technology could truly catch up with Henson's idea for an interactive movie. The ability for viewers to impact the direction of storytelling has since become standard in digital games and entertainment. "Really, where it all ended up was in video games," Lisa Henson said, "but we didn't know that at the time."
In April 1980, Jim and Lisa Henson met with Sherry Langsing, president of 20th Century Fox, to pitch the idea. Jon Stone was to write the script and development continued for the next two years, but the project was shelved due to Sendak and Henson became busy with other projects.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Jim Henson's Red Book: 4/19/1980 – ‘Meet with Jon Stone and Maurice Sendak – talk about idea. Go to Boston – see Brian.’
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones (pages 313-314)
- ↑ Jim Henson's Red Book: 4/15/1980 – ‘Lisa and I visit Sherry Lansing and hatch idea – Sendak movie. Fly to Albuquerque – see folks.’