Innovation That Matters

In China, cinemas place live audience comments on the big screen

Publishing & Media

Some Chinese theaters have introduced cinema texting, where viewers' comments can be sent directly to the screen for everyone else to see.

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Most cinema showings come with a warning for the audience to turn off their devices because most people prefer to watch the movie in peace without getting distracted by others texting. However, we have already seen the Providence Performing Arts Center in Rhode Island offer free seats at the back of the stage show auditorium for those who agree to live tweet the event, and now some Chinese theaters have introduced cinema texting, where viewers’ comments can be sent directly to the screen for everyone else to see.

According to The Nanfang, cinemas in Beijing and Shanghai have already begun to experiment with the system with the release of a new animated film called The Legend of Qin. The audience is encouraged to broadcast their thoughts about the action on screen or the movie in general by texting them to a special number given out before the showing. The comments are then projected live in a streaming motion either on top of the movie or on an adjacent screen.

Shen Leping, the director of The Legend of Qin, said: “We are exploring how the response from the audience can affect the movie itself… We are, in fact, putting the director and viewer on equal terms and I think many of the opinions of the viewers are very helpful for film makers.” The innovation is based on a type of internet video chat called danmu, or ‘bullet screen’, a Japanese phenomenon that has become popular among the teen demographic in recent years.

Watch the video below to see an example of danmu video:

Although it may seem annoying to the large part of cinemagoers, the system takes elements directly from the web to the big screen in order to capture the youth market who actively demand a level of interaction with their entertainment. Are there other web phenomena that could be translated to the real world?


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