Movie theaters are trying to go interactive again, with Audience Entertainment and Screenvision debuting interactive technology in theaters across the country.
Since Sept. 12, customers of 100 Screenvision theaters have been part of the first wave of participants in the company’s interactive Dimension (iD) technology, which through a pre-show presentation allows audiences to physically participate in the content on the big screen.
Previous attempts at interactive cinema have been unsuccessful, including 1992’s “I’m Your Man,” where audiences used seat-mounted joysticks to vote on plot points throughout the movie. Audience Entertainment says it seeks to capture the more playful, physical aspect of the technology that can be found in theme park queues.
“People are starting to engage more deeply with content,” Adam Cassels, CMO of Audience Entertainment told Variety, explaining that the concept of the technology follows the growing trend of engagement with mobile devices, tablets and smart TVs. “The pre-show is a great opportunity to enhance that and create an interactive and engaging experience.”
Content in the preshow experience comes from Truth, the country’s largest youth smoking prevention campaign. The presentation revolves around the new “Finish It,” campaign, with an interactive in-theatre game designed around the campaign’s message that requires the audience to work together waving their arms to collectively control it.
An independent research study commissioned by Audience Entertainment revealed that 90% of viewers enjoyed the interactive component of the preshow, and three quarters said that they would participate in something similar again. “That’s what cinema is about,” said Cassels, “when everyone comes together to experience the theater.”
Audience Entertainment has several advertising campaigns in the works.
Cassels isn’t content to simply get audiences waving their arms in pre-show ads. He believes that there are opportunities for iD’s tech in feature projects, as well.
“I think we’re at that real cutting-edge moment where we can say to the directors and producers ‘There is now a tool that will let you get this type of content into the hands of the audience.’”
“What we’re hoping to build is a platform that will allow you to create more innovative and imaginative content,” he added. “It could be changing the narrative, it could be as subtle as changing the camera view, it could be choosing the trailer. I think that the type of activations and the types of content that we’ll see have yet to be imagined.”
There is no distribution channel for interactive features right now, he conceded. But after a bad box office summer, distributors and exhibitors alike might be willing to take extreme measures to boost attendance and reinvigorate audience enthusiasm for moviegoing.