Friday, June 28, 2013

Will we soon be encouraged to text and tweet during movies?

The financial incentive for movie producers to allow texting and tweeting during their films is obvious: free, broad spectrum advertising. 

The only reason they aren't encouraging it already is fear: many people will complain that the distraction takes them "out of the story." This fear will wane as mobile sharing becomes more ubiquitous in other entertainment venues.

The fact is, if we were given the opportunity to text or tweet during a theatre production or a movie, many people would - without hesitation. Many already are! Few theatres have ushers anymore so you can either complain or take matters into your own hands. Both options may make the situation worse than simply missing out on part of the show.

Theatres have been considering allowing texting for a few years now. An article on the website suggested that some entertainment execs are considering easing up on texting in theatres and possibly even encouraging mobile communication during certain movies (i.e., those aimed at a younger audience.)

Perhaps the first widespread adoption of live tweeting will come from live theatre. A recent NPR article discussed how a new theatre production is hoping to draw a larger audience by capitalizing on its patrons spreading the message during the show. The show, appropriately  called #HASHTAG is about "the daily struggle to stay engaged in the present moment." Its texting policy has already paid off by garnering nationwide exposure in an article on NPR (not to mention a tiny bit more exposure through this blog post.)

While we may not see this policy implemented on Broadway anytime soon, other theatre venues should see that the benefits can outweigh the risk.  For instance, the use of mobile devices would not substantially add to the many distractions that occur during outdoor productions. All outdoor productions, therefore, should consider announcing the following statement before each show:

"We encourage you to tweet and text during this production of (insert play title here!) If you laughed or cried, tell your friends right away while the feeling is fresh. Also feel free to use Vine or Instagram video to share a short clip of the production. Be sure to include our hashtag so we can link all of these great comments and videos to our website!"

This could be the slippery slope that persuades movie companies to ease up and allow similar behaviour  during films. I think under some circumstances it wouldn't be that bad. For example, if the movie is already a flop, or perhaps if all indications are that a soon-to-be released big budget film will most likely flop (as has been suggested of the new movie Pacific Rim), then the studio should make every attempt to boost attendance, including encourage texting, short video clip sharing etc.

Would you have a problem with that?

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