In Plymouth, U.K, movie watches you (and changes endings depending on your reaction)

many worlds

Our mobile editor Jeff Van Camp loves to watch movies more than once in theaters if he really likes it. It kinda makes sense… maybe there’s a scene he missed the first time, or portions of the film so mystifying, he had to see them again to decode. If Jeff happened to be in Plymouth, U.K. in the next few days, he’s going to want to watch Many Worlds at least four times. That’s because this movie has an alternate ending for every viewing, and decides between its four endings based on how the audience reacts during the screening. 

The 15-minute short film is described as a “bizarre physics experiment.” Before the film airs, four volunteer audience members will be strapped with small sensors to help measure their heart rate, muscle tension, brainwave activity, and how much they’re sweating. These data help the movie identify the interactivity level and mood so the film can select upcoming scenes accordingly. For example, if the audience members are feeling restless, the movie may insert intense, slow music to induce fear. Alternatively, if the screeners are bored, an exciting action sequence may appear to keep their attention. It’s basically a Choose Your Own Adventure-type film, except all the choosing magically appears according to the way your body reacts.

The film’s inspiration came after director Alexis Kirke said movies often test differently depending on audience in various countries. Since movies cannot be altered after they’re released, he had to figure out a way for the movie to adapt to its audience without having them physically do anything during the screening.

“How often do studios test multiple cuts of a film when early cuts fail? Or worst of all: they release a film into the general public to have half the cinema goers find it boring or unsatisfying,” Kirke says. “It would be great if the film plot or character could change if we were finding them boring … that’s exactly what Many Worlds does.”

Many Worlds will premiere at the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival on February 23. In case you were curious, the plot revolves around a physics student who traps herself in a “coffin-sized box” with a cyanide gas-capsule connected to a Geiger counter. Two friends find this girl, and… well, the rest, I guess, is up to what you think should happen. Will the two friends help her? Jump in? Kill her? You’ll have to watch to find out all four endings.

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