Theater tests system that displays audience texts on the big screen

movie theater
Instead of encouraging the audience to put away their mobile device when watching a film, several theaters within multiple Chinese cities are experimenting with the concept of encouraging the audience to send text messages to the theater during a film. Calling the concept “bullet screens,” people in the audience can spend about 10 cents to send a message that will be displayed on a section of the movie screen. Detailed by the Hollywood Reporter, the concept allows anyone to make comments about what’s happening on the screen and could potentially turn the movie screen into a grammar-deficient, unfunny ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ experience.

Of course, special precautions are in place to filter out forbidden words or phrases. Otherwise, the screen could be filled with curse words during a showing of an animated children’s film. Conceptually, this style of watching a movie is very similar to the design of Chinese movie websites. These sites allow movie watchers to make comments, via SMS, that are shared with anyone else watching the same movie on the service. At this time, the movie theater adaptation of this system is being tested within cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.

When asked about the popularity of the new system, a theater manager in the Shandong province said “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.” However, some reactions of the people that viewed a film with bullet screens were less than favorable. Most complaints were directed at the level of distraction caused by the stream of text messages. 

Texting-in-a-movie-theater

The probability of this system moving overseas into U.S. theaters is likely quite slim based on the emphasis American theaters place on shutting down mobile devices prior to the start of a film. Hypothetically, theaters could experiment with a system that’s isolates message sharing to mobile devices rather than the big screen. Of course, the application would likely have to require the movie watcher to check into a specific theater in order to connect up with other patrons in the same theater.

Some theaters in the U.S. have a no tolerance policy when it comes to using a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. During October 2013, popular pop artist Madonna was called out by the owner of the Alamo Drafthouse theaters when she was spotted texting during a showing of ’12 Years a Slave.’ Joking about a lifetime ban until Madonna apologized, the owner was attempting to shed light on the persistent annoyance that are mobile devices when used in theaters.

Much more serious, a 43-year-old Florida man named Chad Olsen was shot and killed in a theater earlier this year allegedly for sending a text message during the previews of a showing of ‘Lone Survivor.’ The man that shot Olsen, 71-year-old Curtis Reeves, is currently charged with a count of second-degree murder and a count of aggravated assault. Pleading not guilty and claiming that his actions were self-defense, Reeves was recently released on $150,000 bail while awaiting trial. A constant stream of updates related to that trial can be found here.

Movies & TV

From ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to ‘Episode IX’: The most anticipated movies of 2019

This year is shaping up to be one of the biggest in a long time for Hollywood fare, with everying from Avengers: Endgame to Star Wars: Episode IX hitting theaters over the next 12 months. To make planning your theater calendar a little…
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (January 2019)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

Here's everything we know about 'John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum'

John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum, the third installment of the wildly successful action series that stars Keanu Reeves as a deadly assassin forced out of retirement, hits theaters in May 2019. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Mobile

How to make a contact group on an iPhone

There's no obvious way to crate contact groups on your iPhone, but you can do it through iCloud or you can install a third-party app to help. We explain both methods as we explore how to make a contact group on an iPhone.
Mobile

Xiaomi shows how its folding smartphone will look, and you’re going to love it

Xiaomi is the latest manufacturer to show off a folding smartphone prototype. The unnamed phone has a different design than others we've seen, adopting a double fold where the sides of the screen fold over the back of the device.
Mobile

AT&T and Rush System are using 5G to create the 'hospital of the future'

Ready to experience a radical transformation in mobile communication? AT&T is launching mobile 5G in cities across the country over the next few months. Here's everything you need to know about the AT&T 5G rollout.
Mobile

These patent images may show the new Moto Razr folding phone

The Motorola Razr V3 is one of the world's most iconic phones, and it could be making a stylistic return in the form of a foldable Motorola smartphone -- but it may cost around $1,500. Is the nostalgia worth it?
Mobile

HMD Global confirms which Nokia phones will definitely receive Android Pie

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

Here's how (and why) to use safe mode with an Android phone

When you have an issue with your phone, safe mode can help you determine whether a third-party app is to blame. If you’re wondering how to access it, or how to turn the feature off in Android, then you have come to the right place.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Mobile

The Meizu Zero punctures tradition by eliminating nearly all its holes

The Meizu Zero has cut as many holes as possible to create an almost completely seamless device. There's no speaker, no headphone jack, not even a charging port. Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

LG teases air-gesture technology in LG G8's MWC 2019 event invite

LG is expected to release a successor to the LG G7 ThinQ, possibly called the LG G8 ThinQ, this year and rumors about it are already spreading. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Social Media

Twitter shares sneak peek at simpler, less cluttered design with new features

Twitter shared a sneak peek of an upcoming redesign of its website, showing a less cluttered design with a handful of new features. The update brings keyboard and emoji shortcuts, improved search, and a two-column layout.