The theater-going experience has changed a lot in the last 30 years. Screens that once were blank up until the moment the trailers started are now filled with pre-show entertainment and advertising packages, demanding your attention over the alternatives or talking with your friends/family or getting into Twitter arguments over which fast food chain is best and why it’s definitely Wendy’s.
Even the theater lobby has received a massive overhaul. Gone – or at least relegated to other locations – are simple rows of posters for upcoming films. Now after the teenager guarding the ropes scans your mobile ticket you enter a funhouse of video screens, massive standees, interactive displays and other media.
Adding an augmented reality component to that experience is the aim of Moviebill.
The company is working with theater chain Regal Cinemas to bring an AR experience to moviegoers tied to this week’s release of the highly-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War. Those with tickets for the movie will receive one of 1 million copies of a collectible magazine containing exclusive photos, interviews, videos and other information as well as additional content made available through a partnership with IMDb.
All of that pops off the page when people scan the magazine using the Regal Cinemas app, currently being used by roughly 9 million people. As the commercial included in Regal’s pre-show entertainment/advertising package beginning at the end of March shows, the AR content is designed to appear to be leaping off the page. Users will be able to interact with much of that content, clicking around to view the provided content.
MovieBill believes the magazines will become collectible items based on not only the content but the exclusivity of that content. It also has plans to push new material to each physical issue so that scanning it later brings up something new, adding to the long-term value of each edition.
In fact it’s assumed and expected that usage of the AR functionality will happen after the show to a great extent. While fans can certainly unlock the experience while in the theater lobby or in their seats, once people get home they’ll have more time and freedom to explore what’s available and really dive in, creating an additional point of connection with the movie.
Avengers: Infinity War-related content resulted from a working relationship with Marvel Studios but also from the editorial board Moviebill assembled. The goal, the company stated, was to treat this very much like a magazine with an editorial mission and not just as a promotional pamphlet.
Like any other form of media, the Moviebill magazine and its AR material will be ad-supported, with around 10 advertisers on board for the first issue. The company is making the case to potential advertisers that not only will their messages appear alongside highly sought after content but that the audience reach is huge and highly interested in what’s being offered.
The Moviebill/Regal Cinemas partnership is an exclusive one, at least for this movie season. Future editions for Deadpool 2 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom are being planned.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.