‘Wreck-It Ralph’ apps show power of small screens

Entertainment Apps Conference 2012

Cinematic storytelling moved beyond the bigscreen long ago.

Studios learned that back- and side-stories could be told in one-off books or other media to extend the life of a film or tide things over between franchise releases.

With the ongoing app revolution, that extended storytelling has entered the digital age. And no studio is leading the charge as aggressively as Disney.

For “Wreck-It Ralph,” the studio has released no fewer than four supporting apps, letting fans play the games featured in the film (such as “Fix-It Felix Jr.” and “Hero’s Duty”) and offering a backstory plot for Jane Lynch’s Sgt. Calhoun.

“We’re seeing enormous growth in the digital publishing space,” says Lyle Underkoffler, VP of Digital Media at Disney Publishing Worldwide. “The way we look at it is there are different ways to tell a story — and that can be based on consumer consumption patterns. That can be ‘I want to play the game in the film’ or ‘I want to learn more about the characters.’ ”

Telling different parts of the story keeps users engaged longer — and helps bridge the time between a theatrical and homevideo release — or, in some instances, between sequels. Also, the flexible nature of apps, where developers can add substantial amounts of content through updates, helps companies re-engage an aud when attention spans begin to waver.

“We know people consume content at an incredible level,” says Jim Molinets, g.m./VP of Disney Interactive Media Group’s Glendale Mobile Studio. “We need about three months of content in the can when we launch. The consistency we have around updates is based on user engagement.”

The “Wreck-It Ralph” quartet is Disney’s biggest app support squad to date, and the company plans to continue the trend with upcoming films based on its Marvel properties.

Previous Marvel-based apps have shown significant increases in fan engagement, says Underkoffler — and while declining to get specific, he notes that the company has “plans around upcoming Marvel releases that have similar goals (to ‘Wreck-It Ralph’).”


10 a.m. State of the Industry: Apps and the Entertainment Economy. Speakers: John Penney , executive VP, strategy, Starz; Charlie Echeverry , executive VP, sales, Univision Interactive; Paul Condolora , senior VP, digital & consumer products, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim; Richard Berger , senior VP, global digital strategy and operations, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; Jesse Redniss , senior VP digital, USA Network; Hans Deutmeyer , VP, HBO/Max Go.

11 a.m. Paying to Play: New Tools for Monetizing Entertainment Apps and Content. Speakers: Brian Sapp , director, developer partnerships, TapJoy; Gary Chavez , VP, client services, Bunchball; Scott Chow , senior product manager, PayPal Digital Platforms; Jed Corenthal , CEO, Meemo; Josh Williams , Kontagent prez. Moderator: Philippe Browning , VP, advertising & operations, CBS Interactive.

11:45 a.m. Monetizing the Second Screen. Speakers: Jim Eadie , senior VP, Digital Business Development, MTV Networks; Tom Engdahl , president & CEO, Magic Ruby; Matt Kennedy , president, 1K Studios; Michael Hudes , executive VP, YuMe. Moderator: Chuck Parker , chairman, Second Screen Society.

2:45 p.m. Multiple Deliveries: Social TV, Connected Devices and Second Screens; Speakers: Cass Sapir , CEO, ThumbsUpApp; Trevor Stout , CEO, Yap.TV; John Funge , CEO & co-founder, BrightContext; Paul Carff , developer evangelist, Google TV; Fady Lamaa , VP, products, mPortal. Moderator: Stephanie Boyle , CEO, Rogue Paper.

4:30 p.m. The Storytellers. Speakers: Gabriel Schlumberger , director, digital creative, Disney Publishing; Hank Kanalz , senior VP, Digital, DC Entertainment; Ed Leonard , CEO, Ptch; Matt Kozlov , CEO, Moonshark.

Quartet vying to be killer app for second-screen

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