Chinese Movie Theaters Encouraging Texting During Movies
If there’s one thing nearly every adult has at this point, it’s a cell phone. Not so much for the phone itself, but to text friends, check social media and to just constantly be aware of what’s going on at any given moment. A downside to this amazing technology is that as people demand to be connected to the digital world, they’re disconnected from the actual world.
A part of this disconnect is being aware of one’s surroundings and how it affects other people. If I see someone walking down the street with their head buried in their phone, it doesn’t really affect me. But what’s the one place where that little bright screen can cause frustration and perhaps even anger? The movie theater of course. A place where one can put away the phone, escape for two hours and get totally lost in something.
But some people just can’t go that long without looking or even playing on their device. We’re living in the ADD YouTube generation where small doses of entertainment are consumed and discarded like a soda from the vending machine. It’s sad, but true.
Personally, I can’t recall a single instant in all my hours spent in a movie theater where I had to ask someone to put away their phone (Knock on wood). Nor have I witnessed someone else do it. But it does happen, and it’s annoying and egregious. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in San Antonio famously has a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who talks or texts during a movie. If you’re caught, you’re thrown out. As it should be.
But in China, where this issue is far more prevalent, theater owners are beginning to test and refine ways that not only allow patrons to text during films, but also have THOSE TEXTS PUT ON THE ACTUAL SCREEN THE FILM IS PLAYING ON! Yes, you heard that right. So as you’re watching and enjoying Guardians of the Galaxy in the theater, “Bullet screens” pop up over the movie you’re watching. What is this, Pop-Up Video?
To borrow a quote from a movie, this might be the worst idea in the sad and long history of bad ideas. So not only do I have to suffer through another person playing on their phone, but I also have to see their predictably stupid thoughts onscreen? I can’t even fathom this happening in America.
According to The Hollywood Reporter however, it’s commonplace in China:
The inspiration behind the idea appears to be that it mimics that of watching a movie on mobile media, which is how most Chinese people watch films (So sad), with people sending messages about what they like or dislike about the movie.
Even certain directors from China are on board with this idea.
“We’re 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 filmmakers,” said director Shen Leping.
Uh, no, no they’re not. You make the movie and we, as customers, pay to go see it. If we’re so helpful to you, why don’t you invite us to the set while you’re making it. After the fact is pointless.
Can you tell I hate this idea? Just thinking about it gets me enraged. At the very least though, it’s an interesting look inside China and how they consume media. Remind me to never go see a movie if I ever visit there.
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide Ending
For the last 45 years, film critic Leonard Maltin and book publisher PenguinRandomHouse have been releasing the Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide which adds reviews written by critics each year. Numbering more than 1,600 pages and featuring nearly 16,000 capsule movie reviews, the 2015 edition, which will be released on Sept. 2, will be the last.
The culprit to blame for the book’s demise is the internet. With websites like the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes, there’s no need to buy such a massive book and according to Maltin, to anyone under 30, looking things up in a book is a foreign concept.
“An entire generation has been raised to acquire all their information online from their mobile devices or computers,” said Maltin. “These are not the likely customers for a physical paperback reference book. Our sales have sharply declined in recent years.”
It also doesn’t help that bookstores in general have been closing for a few years now. But Maltin is appreciative of those who continued to support the book.
“We still have a loyal readership. It’s just smaller than it used to be. There are an awful lot of people who have been loyal to the book and are used to having it on their night stand or their coffee table for years and years and years. “Some bought it sporadically and some bought it every year and God bless them.”
As a tactile person, I’m sad to see this ending, but for practical reasons, it makes sense. As Maltin said, sales have been in decline in recent years, but you can bet for the last edition ever published, movie lovers will no doubt pick up the 2015 edition for nostalgic reasons.
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg Working on New Movie
One of the best director/actors collaborations is Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Together the trio made Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. While each film had it’s own story and characters, they were all connected based on their genre-spoofing comedic elements, creative filmmaking techniques and a certain ice cream brand.
The release of The World’s End in 2013 marked the end of that unofficial trilogy and it left many speculating if the trio would have time to work together again based on the fact that each of them are in-demand for other projects. But according to Mr. Pegg himself, they already have another project in the works.
“Edgar and I were having a conversation the other day about it, and it has a title and everything. We’re kind of into a creative cycle now,” said Pegg to the BBC.
The fact that it might happen sooner rather than later is exciting. With Pegg working on two big franchises (Mission: Impossible, Star Trek) and Wright having two directing projects lined up, the thought was that it would take several years for a reunion. But it looks like they have something new and it’s refreshingly different from their past work.
“When we said the trilogy was over, it was because that group of films was over,” said Pegg. “They’re all kind of related with each other and deal with a specific idea. There’s a criteria to those films… The next thing we do won’t do that, it will just be something else. It will happen. We made three films in ten years and hopefully in the next decade we’ll make another three…I really love working with those guys and I wouldn’t ever not want to work with them. It’s not even a question.”
Wright might be the most underrated director working today. None of his films have been hugely successful in the U.S., but if you sit down and watch them, you see a man who knows what he’s doing behind the camera. Whatever he does next with Pegg and Frost will be excellent because to this point, they haven’t disappointed.