Chinese cinemas are showing viewers’ comments on screen

It’s one thing making full use of a hashtag when you’re watching your favourite TV show (even people who don’t watch the Great British Bake Off were entertained by the initial reaction to #bingate). But it’s another going to see a movie and having other people’s opinions pop up on the screen while you’re trying to have a heart-wrenching personal moment with Meryl Streep.

But this could be the future of cinema-going, in China at least. As Quartz reports, at the end of July, an animated martial arts film, Legend of Qin, was released in Hangzhou with viewers’ comments displayed for all to see. It’s since been shown in 11 more cities complete with live commentary from audience randoms citizen critics.

Cinemas had to install a special ‘bullet’ screen, which scrolls reactions from Weibo, the Chinese alternative to Twitter. When the company surveyed viewers about the concept, almost three-quarters gave it the thumbs-down. But that doesn’t seem to be daunting the businesses building new cinemas in Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities, as they’re now going ahead with this new design anyway.

We see enough of people’s mobile screens lighting up the darkness when we’re watching films as it is, I have no doubt there would be movie-goers here who’d embrace the idea. But one of the best things about going to see a film is that it’s (supposed to be) a phone-free zone. So here’s hoping this is one technological innovation that gets lost in translation.

Image by Sailko via Wikimedia Commons.

Diane Shipley