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maryann johanson, striking from a hidden base

wtf: new phone app wants you to use your phone during a movie

I attended a press screening recently — one held in a large multiplex, not a small screening room — during which the gaggle of studio employees sitting to my right proceeded to spend the entire movie texting, the nuclear glow of the screens of their smartphones blazing in the darkness of the theater.

I repeat this: A press screening. Organized for the benefit of the press in the hopes that the press will write positive reviews of the film. And employees of this studio went out of their way to ensure that at least one critic, conspicuous with her reporter’s notebook, was distracted and annoyed throughout much of the movie. Even after said critic requested politely that these employees please not text during the movie, because it was distracting.

I’m assuming from the tender ages of these young women, the fact that they were not familiar to me (and, clearly, not I to them either), and the fact that they were the ones zealously guarding the reserved sections of the theater, that they were probably summer interns, not regular employees. But still.

Imagine how that experience enraged me. Then quadruple it:

The free app, Best Buy Movie Mode, is being released in connection with Universal Pictures for the July 9 release of “Despicable Me,” an animated 3-D movie in which an aspiring supervillain named Gru inherits three little girls.

The marquee feature of the app is called the Minionator, which translates the gibberish of Gru’s little yellow henchmen called Minions. In theaters, the Minionator will work only during the closing credits, but when watching a Blu-ray disc, users can translate lines throughout the movie.

Best Buy Movie Mode would seem an anathema to film lovers who think that talking and texting already interfere with the theater experience. “It is disturbing to have people doing things that take people out of the movie,” said Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research for the National Association of Theater Owners. Many theaters warn patrons to turn off their phones.

“Would seem”? Would seem an anathema?

But in case this isn’t enough to drive discerning moviegoers out of multiplexes, there’s this atrocity, which I had not previously heard of:

Some movie houses already use a technology called MuVChat to let people text comments that are shown on the screen during a film.

Someone tell me where these movies houses are, so I can never ever buy a ticket for one of them.

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