MoviePass is relaunching, but this time as a web3-style phone app with eye-tracking tech that will compel you to keep your eyes riveted to the screen for the duration of the ads. If you look away from the screen, the ads will stop, and you will not receive your in-app rewards.
Don’t Look Away!
MoviePass used to be a service that allowed customers to earn credits for free movie tickets by viewing ads. The “issue” was that people were used to playing those ads in the background while doing something else entirely. This effectively negated the entire objective of the system, and the company was finally forced to close due to a lack of funds from investors and clients. New MoviePass management, however, is committed to ensuring that users view the ads this time to sustain the company’s profitability. The new system will work with the help of the facial recognition and eye-tracking technology already in our smartphones.
Stacy Spikes, co-founder of MoviePass, said, “It’s a way to close that loop and make it far more efficient of a system… not unlike what you’d normally see when you go to a movie theatre, but this is customized for you.”
With MoviePass’ second version, you’ll be able to earn movie tickets. However, you’ll have to view the ads in their whole – no more watching ads while you’re cooking dinner. For the length of the ad, the new app will use eye-tracking technologies to make sure that your eyes remain glued to the screen.
In 2016, MoviePass saw significant growth, thanks to introducing a program that allowed users to see an unlimited number of movies in theatres for a flat fee. Eventually, having numerous individuals see many movies for a fraction of the price proved unsustainable. MoviePass was shut off in 2019. The firm declared bankruptcy the following year (after staying on life support for a while).
Fifteen Million Merits
MoviePass expresses its determination to ensure that advertising information is no longer straightforwardly hidden from viewers. Meanwhile, they aim to provide customers with the ability to further enhance their online wallets through the use of third-party applications. Users will be able to purchase movies and other MoviePass items in the future. They will even be able to participate in the company’s stock.
Stacy Spikes said, “We had an early version of this where you know what happened. People put the phone down and left and didn’t pay any attention to it. Right now, 70% of video advertising is unseen. This is a way that advertisers get the impact they’re looking for, but you’re also getting the impact yourself.”
This doesn’t seem like such a horrible idea until you realize that it’s a real-time episode of Black Mirror taking place in the actual world. A universe in which members of society must pedal on exercise bikes while simultaneously viewing interminable ads is shown in the episode, which is titled Fifteen Million Merits. The “merits” they gain may then be spent on various items in their everyday lives.
Even when the main protagonist, Bing, can’t even take the time to skip an ad depicting his girlfriend, Abi, that appears on a fictional pornographic channel known as WraithBabes, the premise is brought to the brink of ridiculousness. Because he has exhausted his merits, a high-pitched noise screeches anytime he takes his gaze away from the screen — forcing him to sit and watch.
In a dismal dystopian fiction that is tough to watch, Fifteen Million Merits makes obvious statements about current society, capitalism, and the misuse of personal information in the digital age. Even though the stories feature science fiction elements and are set in the far future, the “future” is frequently uncannily similar to the present. Is it possible that people are willing to sell their attention, emotions, and cognition in exchange for allowing applications to monitor their gaze while viewing advertisements to see a movie “for less”?
Only time (and the success of MoviePass) will tell if the relaunch will end up looking like a parody of Black Mirror or not. As far as we can tell, this is a stark reminder that corporations continue to use dystopian fiction as a model rather than take notice of the warnings contained within it.