Best Buy phone app makes theaters & home video interactive

Since cell phone use has become a mainstream thing, theaters have been telling movie goers to turn them off. Best Buy is now encouraging the audience of the animated 3-D movie “Despicable Me” to turn their cell phones back on in order to use their new, free Movie Mode interactive application.

For the theater release of “Despicable Me”, The Movie Mode mobile application will tell users where to locate theaters showing the movie, and has interactive features to be used by the audience during the film. The feature, known as “The Minionator” will be used to translate the special language used by the little, yellow Minion creatures, but will only be active during the closing credits in theaters. The application will also tie in with the DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases of the movie, and will be accessible while viewing the entire movie at home to provide users with translation of the Minion language.

By restricting use of the app to the closing credits only in theaters, Best Buy has tried to appease audience members who may be annoyed by cell phone use during the movie. Additional courtesy features built into the app include automatic muting of ringtones and screen-dimming to deter texting and noise interruptions.

Currently, other than the built-in Best Buy store locater feature, the application will only be useful for this particular film. Best Buy’s general manager of home entertainment group, Chris Homeister, hints that there may be plans in store for the future of the app. Homeister would not divulge details, but did tell the NY Times that, “We believe this app has tremendous life after ‘Despicable Me.’ ”

The Movie Mode application will be available for download for the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile platforms at Download links are currently inactive and marked “Coming Soon”, but should be active before the June 27th movie premier in Los Angeles. Best Buy Reward Zone members can register to win tickets to the premier, and have the opportunity to attend exclusive pre-screenings of “Despicable Me” in 20 US markets. The movie will open in theaters nationwide on July 9th.

While I personally find the use of cell phone in movie theaters to generally be obnoxious and annoying, I do think that the idea is a creative use of modern marketing resources by Best Buy and Universal Pictures. With this being the first interactive mobile movie application of this kind, I’d be very interested in seeing some consumer usage statistics and if this experiment is a success.

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