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Please Don’t Put Your Phone Away During The Movie

Movie theaters in China experiment with showing audience texts onscreen.

[Image: Flickr user Brian Ambrozy]

Movie theaters may be one of the last remaining public spaces where cell phone use is frowned upon … until now. Some cinemas in China have been equipping their theaters with "bullet screens" that display text messages, allowing audience members to comment on the film in real time.

Why would anyone find this tolerable, let alone enjoyable? In China, at least, a majority of citizens watch films on mobile media devices, complete with comments from other people, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Bringing this experience to the big screen seemed like a logical next step.

The technology is currently being tested with select films in a small number of major metropolitan theaters. It costs each user around 10 cents per text.

"Right now everyone thinks this is pretty novel and pretty cool," a theater manager named Zhang told the China Youth Daily. "But in the long run this might have an impact on people’s attention spans during movies."

In an era of second screens, where Twitter drives ratings and TV shows promote hashtags on air, it’s easy to imagine this technology could be coming soon to a theater in the U.S.