Personal Electronics May Have A Bright, Unwelcome Future In Cinemas

By Mike Reyes 2014-04-07 16:54:50discussion comments
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There are two types of movie-goers: those who sit and watch the movie quietly, and those who can't go five minutes without being bathed in the glow of their personal electronic devices. The conflict between these two sects of film watchers was an unintentional bullet point at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers' (or the SMPTE, for short) recent "Technology Summit on Cinema" presentation. Buried in the midst of items about advanced post-production making home viewing preferable to going out for a movie, or suggesting that frame rates could vary from scene to scene in future productions, Variety captured a pull quote that even some of the industry's movers and shakers found to be a disturbing prospect. What was so disturbing about it? It suggested that eventually - not "possibly " - personal electronic devices will become commonplace in darkened theaters near you.

According to Steve Weinstein, chief technology officer at Deluxe Entertainment Services, theater owners might soon be giving into the ever mounting pressure to let patrons use their cell phones or tablets. Why? Because according to Weinstein, "The second screen in theaters, itís just an inevitability. How did the audience react to such a suggestion? Variety noted that cell phone friendly policies were seen as:
"...a notion that brought groans from some, who complained of seeing†cell phone and tablet screens light up around them as they try to watch a film.

The negative reaction isn't a surprise. Imagine sitting in a screening of the upcoming horror movie Oculus, or any a dark and atmospheric movie that depends on mood and setting to retain narrative tension. Just as something scary is about to happen, someone decides to check their phone, which lights up the room and ruins the mood. Even if you are someone who can ignore the glare, you'll have to deal with people who aren't as sharply focused complaining out loud. That can lead to arguments, which also would take you out of the movie.



On the other side of the coin, there is a belief that if movie theaters were more open to social interactions or secondary methods of display there would be bigger crowds at the movies. For all we know, teenagers would be more likely to go to a theater if they knew they could Tweet shout outs to their friends two rows in front of them. Also, if studios like Disney get more money out of their releases by pushing events like their Frozen Sing Along , what's to say that having the Second Screen enabled to display trivia and lyrics synced with the film on the screen won't bring more people to the table?

For now, the consensus seems to rule on the side of tradition: as long as the policy still dictates , please silence and holster your cell phones, tablets, and anything that can glow and ruin the theatrical experience for the people around you. It is rude and inconsiderate, and it really does take people out of the movie, especially when it's a 3D presentation (try looking at your cell phone with a pair of 3D glasses on. Hurts, doesn't it?). Until the day comes when cell phones are accepted, it's not only the right thing to do, it's the rule.
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