In the 1950s there were 3D movies, Smell-O-Vision theaters and CinemaScope. The fad of 3D movies has come back around in the past few years, but I suspect it will go away again. So, what’s a new fad that has yet to come around? How about interactive movies? That is, mobile-enabled films…
Movie theaters are using ultra-high-end digital projectors more and more these days. Those projectors are connected to hard drives. Those hard drives are connected to the internet. That means it would be pretty easy to deliver custom content to an entire theater of people by way of text or application enabled mobile phones. Yeah… think of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series from decades ago and apply the idea to a movie. Remember “Clue – The Movie”? That movie came out in 1985 and was unique in that it had three different endings, depending on which final reel was playing in your theater. It was not a huge success. Or, was it just too early?
Universal, Paramount, Disney, Warner Brothers – any of them could shoot a movie that included variations to the story line that would offer movie-goers the chance to affect the ending – or the middle – or the beginning! The possibilities are pretty huge – especially considering how many movies are more CG than live action!
With the outrageous popularity of smart phones, a fairly simple mobile app would let YOU be the “director.” Maybe you (and the rest of the audience) decides what character gets killed off first. Or if the girl goes with the nice guy or the popular one… What if the viewing audience got to finally kill off Tom Cruise in the first 10 minutes of the latest Mission: Impossible franchise? (Please?) Would people go see mobile-enabled films? Would they be interesting enough to drive sales? Could the movies be made cost effective? Would the genre peter-out like 3D movies and Smell-O-Vision? (I’d say the last one is more likely than the others – but it could be a fun gimmick to get butts in the seats!)
I envision some kind of standard being developed that gets installed in the movie theater’s digital projectors (as an add-on) that uses fairly simple instructions on what time code to play at a given point. (I did this using HyperCard back in the late 80’s/early 90’s using laser discs!) This add-on is connected to the web, which gets real-time updates from the mobile app users watching the movie at that time. The key to the whole plan though, is that the app polls the audience at random times during the movie, asking for “direction”. You may now say, “Yeah, but how do you stop people from “directing” scenes when they aren’t even in the theater?” – how about a simple, randomized code at the beginning of that showing of the movie? The code could be generated by the server and would be unique for that movie, based on your GPS coordinates, so no two short codes would be the same across the country.
Could be interesting… could be expensive… could be fun. I bet the big film makers are already trying to figure out how to do this – so it will be exiting to see what happens in the next five years. Maybe someone will hire me to work on the project.
Now… think about how it could affect TV shows… hmmmm