Hollywood will never be the same

Amidst theater closings and lockdowns, Universal Pictures released Trolls World Tour via video-on-demand a few weeks back. Well, AMC Theaters, which likely would’ve offered the movie if they’d been allowed to open, wasn’t too happy with that. As a result of the incident, and Universal’s CEO floating the idea of more VOD releases AMC has decided to no longer show any Universal films.

The film was released via iTunes and Amazon Prime Video and viewers were charged $20 to watch the film during a 48-hour rental window.

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, spoke in a Wall Street Journal piece on Tuesday, and mentioned the movie made some $100 million in premium VOD rentals in its first three weeks. Theaters typically take about 50% of box office sales, depending on the deal, while in this case Universal retained about 80%.

Does this signal the end of theaters altogether? Most likely not. But wait. Plot twist. On May 4, 1948, the Supreme Court made a game-changing decision that one company could not own both a film studio and theater chain. Basically, back then major studios controlled nearly everything about moviemaking. Today, that decision is being reviewed and could potentially be reversed or amended, which means big changes for an industry that already has a lot up in the air.

Why it’s hot:

While there is value in the theatre experience, it’s easy to see why a studio, especially someone like Sony, would love going vertical. Think about all the at home theatre equipment you could cross promote to enhance DTC viewing. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.


TV Ads in the age of Covid-19: behind the curve?

Regardless of how you feel about social distancing, our feelings about sharing open spaces with strangers has changed. In one short week, we have been retrained on how to interact with the rest of society. For those who aren’t used to staying as far away from other people as possible, it must be tough.

For this reason, it is very strange to see tv commercials or tv shows where people are not practicing social distancing guidelines. It’s triggering to see a tv ad where people are hanging out at a restaurant or attending a sporting event without kinda freaking out.

Why It’s Hot

All of these ads were produced months before we had even heard of the phrase “social distancing.” It will be interesting to see how this will impact marketing and advertising in the coming months.


Burger King jumps on Bronx-steps Joker meme

Thanks to the success of the Joker movie, the now famous Bronx steps have become an Instagram-able tourist destination, to the chagrin of many locals just trying to get to work.

Riding on the coat tales of this meme-fueled furor, Burger King took the opportunity to create some local goodwill (while taking a jab at its main clown-mascotted rival) by offering Bronx residents a free Whopper, delivered by UberEats, as a consolation for having to deal with the rapid influx of Joker-stair tourists AKA clowns (burn).

Why it’s hot:

Brands are desperate to be a part of pop culture, and this campaign finds a low-risk, nonpolitical way to catch the viral wave, with little investment.

Rides on the pop-culture success of Joker, but comes at it from a snarky, unpredictable angle.

Source: Fast Company

Thor 4D

As part of a skit for the Late Late Show, the cast of Thor put on a high-school play version of the movie at a theater to a surprised audience.


Why it’s hot:

  • Hilarious marketing stunt for a movie
  • Disrupting the movie industry with 4D movies


P.S. The team at Looking Glass Factor wants to thank everyone that came by to check out the demo they showed us on Tuesday. We’re all invited to the launch party on Tuesday in Greenpoint which sounds like it has a bunch of other fun things to play with. RSVP on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1548171508552285/

Disney’s Real-Time Rotten Tomatoes

Disney is using new deep learning software to analyze movie-goers’ facial expressions and gauge how much they’re enjoying a film.

The innovation within the new system is an algorithm that Disney and Caltech call factorised variational autoencoders (FVAEs), which use deep learning technology to automatically turn facial expressions into numerical data, and is able to incorporate metadata.

Combining the FVAE algorithm with infrared cameras, Disney can analyse the facial expressions of moviegoers in a cinema as they react to what they’re being shown on screen. With enough information, the new technology can even predict how an audience member will react to upcoming scenes after just 10 minutes of observation.

Why It’s Hot

  • Technology could be used to tailor a film to an audience in real time, bringing in a new aspect of personalization to cinema
  • Data gathered and analyzed can be funneled into other developing AI systems where picking up cues from their body language to be able to better assist (e.g. robot babysitters)
  • Raises the question of how this will impact the movies we end up being exposed to with this AI now acting as the gatekeeper between us and the next Sharknado



From 3D to 4D: The Future of Movies

dboxD Box movie theatre seats will introduce a new experience to moviegoers: immersive action. Audiences will be able to not only hear and see the action on screen, but feel it.

Founded in 1998, D-BOX Technologies Inc. designs, manufactures and commercializes leading-edge motion systems mainly suited for the entertainment and simulation industries. With its unique, patented technology, D-BOX Motion Code, motion effects are specifically programmed for each visual content and sent to a motion generating system integrated with either a platform or a seat. The resulting motion is perfectly synchronized with all onscreen content, creating an unmatched realistic, immersive experience.


Source: D-Box Movie Theatre Seats

Why It’s Hot:

This kind of technology is not new – we can get this sort of 4-D virtual experience at a lot of amusement parks and arcades. But these D-Box seats are taking a huge step forward; they’re introducing this new, innovative technology into every-day life.

Did Google and Red Robin Just Make a Banner Ad That’s Actually Cool?

Red Robin just launched—through a partnership with Google—an interactive display campaign that could actually turn sci-fi fans into patrons of the fast-casual burger chain.

The brand worked with Google and its digital agency, Vitro, to create immersive video promos for Red Robin’s Terminator Genisys campaign, which also includes TV spots and signage in the company’s restaurants. The ads let viewers see Red Robin pitchwoman “Melanie” as a Terminator character would. They can use their smartphones to add another digital layer to the experience or watch on their desktops for a simpler view.

Check out the demo below and experience the banner yourself here.

Why It’s Hot

It’s rare that brands step outside of the box when it comes to their banner ads so anything that leverages new technology or creates an immersive experience to grab users attention should be shared.

For another noteworthy Terminator promo, check out my post from last week.


Now You Can Get Driving Directions From the Terminator

Mover Siri, here comes Ahh-nold.
For the next three weeks, drivers who use the navigation device Waze can get directions from the voice of the Terminator. They won’t be able to find their way to Mars—after all, this is a cross-promotion for the upcoming Terminator Genisys, not for 1990’s Total Recall—but they will be able to navigate cities, suburbs and the country to the robotic monotones of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable character.

Why It’s Hot

This partnership is such a unique and interactive way to promote a movie- once the new movie opens, red-eye Endoskulls will also appear in your Waze app to guide you to nearby movie theaters. Plus this also allows Arnold Schwarzenegger to fulfill a common request from his fans. “Every single day on social media fans ask me to record my movie lines,” the actor said, in a statement. “So, now I get to bring this classic role and my charming Austrian accent into their cars.”


Get Liam Neeson to Endorse Your “Particular Set of Skills”

For the upcoming movie Taken 3, starring Liam Neeson, the movie studies are embracing LinkedIn to lead a contest which will result in one lucky person winning a video endorsement by Liam Neeson that will speak to their skills and live on their LinkedIn page.

Apparently in the first Taken movie, Liam Neeson delivered a memorable line about his “particular set of skills,” which has become a catchphrase for the series. Given this, it seemed sensible to partner with LinkedIn to have Liam Neeson brag about someone else’s particular set of skills to generate buzz for the movie and engagement.

Read more about Taken 3’s social media effort on Adweek.

Why It’s Hot | Movies focusing on social media promotions leading up to their release is completely normal and expected nowadays. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and tumblr have all had their fair share of campaigns for hot new releases. What’s not expected is a movie using LinkedIn for a social media campaign. This is a great example of  media utilizing the organic popularity their movie gains – fans love the “particular set of skills” line, so the movie focused on just that for their big social media integration. That being said, it’s yet to be seen if the movie’s fans are active on LinkedIn and will engage with this effort.

Hardcore: The World’s First Full-POV Action Movie

After earning viral success for his music video a year ago, musician and filmmaker Ilya Naishuller has created a new film that takes POV filming techniques to a new level.

Dubbed “Hardcore,” the film is touted as the world’s first full-POV action movie, meaning as the viewer you are experiencing the cinematic world from a complete 1st-person perspective… as if you are inside the body of the hero. “Hardcore” was filmed entirely using GoPro cameras and features an international cast.

Watching the sneak-peek below (begins at the 4-minute mark), you find the experience like a “live” action video game.

Why It’s Hot

“Hardcore” may not be the best movie ever made, but that’s not why we’re talking about it. “Hardcore” shows that filmmakers, creatives and advertisers need to rethink how we tell brand stories and communicate product experiences. Technology has already created platforms that enable first-person experiences. Marketing needs to become more about experiencing the world around a product, not just a gimmicky way of seeing the product itself.

Endgame – Blending Print, Film, Gaming, and a Global Treasure Hunt


(image The Verge)

Author James Frey released his latest novel, Endgame, on October 7th. It holds an elaborate code, directing readers towards a key hidden somewhere in the real world. That key will open a case containing a half million dollars in gold. This is the premise of Endgame, which is not so much a book as a grand attempt at a story that will span across every piece of conceivable media. The author has teamed up with some of the largest names in media (Google, Fox, Harper Collins) to tell a multi-platform story that incorporates books, movies, social media, TV, mobile, online video, search, image results and online virtual worlds.

In the words of Author James Frey: “It was conceived as a project that would exist across multiple platforms, and that the story would be told in books, novellas, games, film, and TV. [We also knew it] would have a social media presence, and exist in places – such as search results and mapping coordinates and YouTube – that aren’t traditionally mediums for storytelling and writing.”

via Publishers Weekly

Why It’s Hot

As the worlds of media continue to collide and people’s expectations evolve to become channel agnostic, stories no longer have to remain silo’d to specific types of media. Stories can now be merged across a tapestry of interwoven pieces of media and technology. Each of which can tell pieces of the story which are unique to that medium but are only parts that make up a complete, multi-faceted story experience. Being everywhere all the time used to be an impossible task to accomplish, but these days technology is capable of doing it and in this case, inviting people to be apart of the much larger picture.

Two Interesting Approaches in the Movie Business

This week, I came across two interesting stories, that both are grounded in new ways to distribute content and insights about your audience.

1. Adam Sandler has agreed to produce and star in four feature films that will be released exclusively on the Netflix. The deal is yet another effort by Netflix to bolster its content portfolio, and one that is expected to be a hit with users. Sandler is one of the few actors whose films consistently rank among the most viewed by subscribers, Netflix said.”His appeal spans across viewers of all ages — everybody has a favorite movie, everyone has a favorite line — not just in the U.S., but all over the world,” said Ted Sarandos, the company’s chief content officer.

Source: ABC News

2. Lions Gate and Stephenie Meyer, the creator of the vampires-and-werewolves “Twilight” saga, on Tuesday announced plans to select five aspiring female directors to make short films based on “Twilight” characters. The mini-movies, financed by Lions Gate and its production partners, will be shown exclusively on Facebook next year. “We think Facebook is a great way for us to introduce the world of ‘Twilight’ to a whole new audience while re-energizing existing fans,” Michael Burns, Lions Gate’s vice chairman, said in an interview. The effort reflects the manner in which Hollywood is maintaining its most valuable film properties between sequels and prequels and remakes. In the past, studios barely kept a pilot light lit, forcing marketing teams to constantly reactivate cold fan bases. Now the savviest studio marketers are using Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube and other online platforms to keep fans on a constant low boil.

Source: NY Times

Why It’s Hot

I’m interested to see the different ways in which movie and TV content are both created distributed going forward. These two examples show how understanding audience behavior (actor preferences, social media habits) can drive innovative solutions.