- Tournament launched Friday
- Grand prize is $1,500
- New technology makes mobile phone part of movie experience
Interactive gaming is taking over the big screen.
That is, at least, where Emagine Entertainment Inc. believes digital trends could be heading. So, instead of telling movie-goers to turn their phones off or leave them at home, the Troy-based luxury theater chain is moving to make them part of the experience.
Emagine has worked with Toronto-based TimePlay Inc. for the past year and a half to bring interactive technology to each of its six theaters in Michigan. The technology, installed in movie projectors, connects movie-goers to the big screen via mobile app, allowing them to answer quiz questions and win prizes like free popcorn.
The technology had been in the beta stages, but on Friday, the theater rolled it out officially in the form of a tournament, said Melissa Boudreau, chief marketing officer of Emagine.
Through March 8 at each theater, movie-goers who take their seats 15 minutes before their show will have the opportunity to compete in games against friends and strangers using their mobile phones. Games range from soccer and hockey to a Guitar Hero-like contest projected on the big screen and played from phones as scores are tallied and visible in real time.
The top-ranking 20 players will be eligible to participate in a grand finale event at the Novi location on March 24 at 1:30 p.m. First prize is $1,500, second place is $1,000 and third place is $500.
There is no extra charge for movie-goers to play the games or enter the tournament.
This isn’t Emagine’s first foray into gaming tournaments. Last November it hosted the 2017 League of Legends World Championship Finals at its Royal Oak location. The theater chain sees much potential for growth in interactive gaming.
“We always try to be innovative,” Boudreau said. “That doesn’t just mean movies. We want to offer things that are in demand and makes (people) come to the movies.”
Boudreau said around 2,000 customers have tried the theater’s interactive gaming during its beta stage. She said the theater expects at least 500 movie-goers to take part in the tournament.
The bigger picture for Emagine is how the technology can be rolled into pre-movie advertising and even movie previews, Boudreau said. With enough interest, she said she could even see theaters being reserved just for gaming.
“The tournament will help us determine if this is something our guests enjoy,” she said.
TimePlay and Emagine will review how receptive customers are to the technology — by counting how many play it and for how long — and determine where to take their partnership. Right now, no money is changing hands, Boudreau said, but if the technology is integrated into advertising, it would likely turn into a revenue-sharing relationship.
In addition to Emagine, TimePlay’s partners include Cineplex, Bow Tie Cinemas, McDonald’s, Mazda, Samsung and Heineken.
“E-sports and gaming has had explosive growth and we’re excited to bring this new mass casual gaming offering to the cinema,” Aaron Silverberg, vice president of marketing for TimePlay, said in a statement.
E-sports are even flirting with the big stage. From Feb. 20-25, the Horizon League and 313 Presents LLC is hosting an NBA 2K18 tournament at Little Caesars.