Theatres in major Chinese cities have starting experimenting with “bullet screens” on which audiences can send text messages commenting on the film, which are then projected directly onto the screen.
If you’re sensitive to people using their cellphones during a movie, then going to the movie theatre in China would be far from relaxing experience. Rows of underlit faces and chiming ringtones punctuate the show, despite requests asking patrons to turn their phones before the movie begins.
This experience is set to become institutionalized during some movies for younger viewers who can’t spend five minutes away from their tablet or phone, according to a report in the China Youth Daily.
The inspiration behind the idea appears to be that it mimicks that of watching a movie on mobile media, which is how most Chinese people watch films, with people sending messages about what they like or dislike about the movie.
In a censored environment like China, precautions are taken to remove sensitive or forbidden words.
There are several Chinese movie websites, based on a Japanese idea of bullet screens, where viewers can spend their whole time making remarks on the film via SMS.
The experiment involves a number of theatres in China, including in Beijing and Shanghai, but also in smaller cities such as Hangzhou.
Earlier this month, the Luxin cinema in Shandong province in northeast China tried the system with a screening of the domestic 3D animated movie The Legend of Qin, a TV adaptation that has taken $9.25 million in box office in China so far.
The manager, surnamed Zhang, said the theater was 90 percent occupied and that “bullet information” was sent by SMS at 0.1 yuan, around 10 cents, per message.
But others enjoyed the interactivity.