Get Rewarded for Not Texting During a Movie

CinemodeShaming didn't work. Neither did self-policing. And the incessant reminders to "just do the right thing" have certainly had little effect on the problem plaguing the cineplex in our all-digital-all-the-time-world. Struggling to make the cineplex a more friendly environment for movie-goers, exhibition executives have long been trying negative reinforcement to get people to turn their cell phones off while watching a movie. But that negative tact has been met with mixed results at best. Perhaps now it's time to turn to the Pavlovian method and give the obeyers a treat.

At least that's what the execs at Cinemark are willing to try. The Cinemark app has actually been out for a while now, but Deadline just brought attention to the recent activation of a component within Cinemark's iPhone and Android smartphone app that can determine if the owner has been fiddling with the device during a movie, and then send digital coupons to those owners who refrained. In other words, they've now turned to bribery.

We haven't tried it out yet to see what kinds of deals they offer, but some have pointed out they've received free soft drinks and size upgrades on drinks and popcorn.

Here's how it works. Shortly before the film starts, a brief message will flash on the screen notifying customers to launch the Cinemark app and activate the CineMode component on their smartphones. The app will then dim the screen before reminding users to also put the phone on vibrate. The app then keeps track of how long the app was activated, and will automatically send digital rewards to the user that can be redeemed at the concession stand. There doesn't seem to be a way for the app to know if you're actually activating it during a movie, or just while sitting on your couch at home, but abusers beware! Perhaps a code number on the screen that must be entered to activate the CineMode would be a good suggestion is abuse becomes a problem.

Call us skeptical, but this doesn't sound like it will have any measurable effect. Texters text because they can. Until we return to the days of roaming ushers in every house who kick violators out, the problem will persist. And we know that's not going to happen. But then again, it certainly can't hurt and it's nice to see the exhibitors take the problem seriously and attempting to tackle it. If nothing else, a bunch of free coupons for me!

Cinemark's Cinemode App

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