Most of us would agree that texting in movie theaters has become a serious problem. Certain theater chains – like the Alamo Drafthouse – go out of their way to protect patrons from the annoyance of handheld devices being used during the theatrical experience. Now, however, major theaters in China are going in the opposite direction in order to appeal to tech-savvy ticket buyers.
Meet the "bullet screens" concept (a name that really needs to be changed due to gun-violence sensitivity, particularly following recent events during movie screenings). THR reports that movie theaters in major Chinese cities are rolling out this new technology that allows audience members to "send text messages commenting on the film, which are then projected directly onto the screen."
Because that’s what we want. The Mystery Science Theater treatment of our first-run movies at the multiplex.
The idea behind the "bullet screens" grows from the fact that younger Chinese audience members tend to watch movies on handheld devices instead of big screens, and they routinely comment via SMS text messages while viewing. This new technology allows them to interact with friends while the movie is on the big screen. THR also says that the Luxin cinema in the Shandong province experimented with the system for a screening of the 3D animated movie The Legend of Qin. The theater manager said that it was a success, but he’s hesitant to proclaim it a slam dunk, stating:
People like it right now, as it’s a new thing. In the long term, it might affect people’s concentration. We are trying to continue with some bullet screen activities and play some films that young people like. Time will tell."
Considering violence too often breaks out when people text in movie theaters, I’m guessing this "bullet screens" technology won’t catch on in the United States. But tell me, are you open to the concept? If there were specific screenings that were blocked off for people who wanted to do the "bullet screens," would you go? Would you even pay extra? You know that theater chains and major Hollywood studios will be paying close attention to the response to this new system. If it’s something that can drive up attendance at U.S. theaters – where numbers have been down all season – you can bet that Hollywood will give it a shot.