Chinese Movie Theaters Apparently Hellbent on Making the Experience Even More Miserable

     August 19, 2014


As someone who has gotten into at least two dozen verbal altercations with members of the texting community over the past five or six years, I pray for China.  And I hope that whatever China is up to these days doesn’t spread much further.  Because Chinese movie theaters are testing and refining systems that allow theatergoers to text during films and then see those texts on the actual screen the film is playing on.  “Bullet screens” will pop up over the movie you’re watching.  It’s bad enough that you have to see the light from someone’s phone, but now you have to see their stupid thoughts onscreen?

Don’t even try to justify this one to me as some kind of “eventuality.”  It’s not.  It doesn’t have to be.  One of the best parts of going to the movies is being able to out away your phone.  But apparently the epidemic is so bad there that theaters are feeling the need to lean into this cultural debacle.  Hit the jump for more on this nightmare scenario. 

movie-theatre-textingAccording to an article in The Hollywood Reporter (via China Youth Daily):

The inspiration behind the idea appears to be that it mimicks that of watching a movie on mobile media, which is how most Chinese people watch films, with people sending messages about what they like or dislike about the movie.

The piece elaborates on the already nightmarish experience, but really goes in for the kill with a quote from Legend of Qin (pictured below) director Shen Leping, who seems to be taking a page of thought right out of the heads of some of the most entitled Twitter trolls out there:

“We are 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 film makers.”

legend-of-qin-chinese-movie-theatersWhat? To compound the vast misreading of what is actually happening here, they interview filmgoer Xu Huilin (I for one would like some context as far as Huilin’s age and/or cognitive ability):

“This is a real way of watching a film. For us, it is exciting and fun. It is a reform in terms of the commercial model. It is just like when popcorn got into cinema for the first time, a lot of people protested that it would affect the film viewing experience.”

Of course, it’s not as though the whole country is going crazy.  People like Riya Sang stand up for the voice of reason with the wholly sane (and should-be universal) sentiment, “I don’t like bullet screens. The point of watching a film in the theater is to put away whatever is in your hand and focus on the film.”  Still, it appears as though folks like Sang are either in the minority, at least according the the hellscape depicted in the article.

Readers who have recently watched a movie in China, is this depiction accurate?  I’d like to think that it’s not.  Let me know.


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