MoviePass Unlimited Admission Beta Hits a Roadblock

  • Last week ETCentric reported that a new service called MoviePass plans to offer unlimited movie viewing in participating theaters for a fee of $50/month. The initial beta was scheduled for the holiday weekend in San Francisco.
  • The planned beta test hit a roadblock when a number of San Francisco theaters decided not to participate since they did not consent to the admission price of the proposed model.
  • Interestingly, the theaters would still have been paid full admission.
  • From the AMC press release: “As MoviePass was created without AMC’s input and testing, we cannot confidently say the guest experience would be positive for our guests and specifically our AMC Stubs members.”

Motion Movie Theater Seats from D-BOX Coming this Summer

Montreal-based D-BOX Technologies — manufacturer of custom-designed seats for film and gaming entertainment — recently announced it will outfit 70 locations (50 in the U.S.) with “MFX” motion-equipped theater seating for screenings this summer. Theater-goers willing to spend an additional $8 can expect an enhanced, immersive experience viewing movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Super 8 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 from motion-equipped seats. D-BOX hopes to expand its seating to 200 locations one year from now and up to five times that within the next four years.

The company introduced its technology in 2009 with a motion-coded version of Universal’s Fast & Furious playing in only two theaters. D-BOX equipped additional theaters the end of April with MFX seating for the latest installment in the same series, Fast Five. According to the Wall Street Journal: “Motions range from being pitched forward, backward and side to side, to experiencing a momentary freefall when a character, say, leaps off a cliff. Seat-side controls let squeamish viewers dial down the intensity level of the experience — which on the highest setting can reach up to two times the acceleration caused by gravity.”

D-BOX Motion Code technology uses motion effects programmed for each film (as well as TV series or video games for home seating) so that the resulting motion is synchronized with the onscreen action and sounds. According to D-BOX, Motion Code is available on more than 900 titles and studios have started embedding it on many Blu-ray and theatrical releases, enabling MFX using three types of intelligent movement (subtle pitch, roll and heave) in addition to vibrations.

Although headquartered in Canada, D-BOX has a research-and-development office in Burbank, California.

Check out the Movie Theatre page of the D-BOX site for a location near you featuring MFX-equipped seating.

Digital Distribution: Is it Time to Redefine Cinema?

The New York Times offers an interesting perspective regarding how digital technologies have impacted the production, distribution, marketing and exhibition of contemporary movies. The article addresses a compelling focus in terms of how the communal aspect of viewing film is facing a dramatic cultural shift and how filmgoing has become less of a group experience. Have we reached a new milestone that may require us to redefine the term “cinema” — and, if so, what does this mean for the business of filmmaking?

The article cites the fact that theater attendance has declined in the U.S. from 90 million a week in 1948 to approximately 23 million today. Of course, the 1948 audience did not have Blu-ray, on-demand, cable movie channels, streaming services and an array of new technologies that enable today’s “24-hour movie.”

Technological innovation has led to cultural evolution regarding the traditional cinema experience. For many consumers, experiencing a movie is no longer about the anticipation of a release, the social environment created by sitting in a darkened theater with a date or a friend (and a group of strangers), or the “communal laughter, tears, gasps and heckling that become part of our memories.” For many (perhaps most), the experience is now more about clicking a button — and what has become a more personalized, immediate dynamic based on consumption-on-demand that technologies enable.

If the 24-hour movie continues to impact the demands and expectations of the movie-viewing public, will this require us to rethink how we produce, exhibit and market our content?