reelXperience: Could Interactive Theaters Become Mainstream?

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Thursday, May 21st, 2015

reelXperience Lobby Preview

For movie fans, there’s nothing quite like the moment when the lights drop down, the sound goes up, and images of movies begin to dance across the silver screen. And yet, while the movie-going experience itself is iconic, it doesn’t stop us from constantly trying to make movies something more. From the introduction of 4D features to theaters to fully-fledged immersive theater events, there have been numerous attempts to improve and modernize theater going. The latest, reelXperience Entertainment, raises the question of whether interactive theaters could become mainstream. Surprisingly, the answer may be just eighteen months away.

At this year’s CinemaCon, there was significant discussion about how to get people back into theaters. Theater attendance levels have hit historic lows. Once, a movie theater was the only way to get access to exciting new visual content. Today, they’re competing with TVs showcasing hundreds of channels; seasons of favorite shows available on demand; video games; movies streaming online through services like Netflix; and other endless entertainment options. Some innovative entrepreneurs believe that theaters need to up their game to get crowds back into movie theaters, instead of waiting until the next feature film is available for streaming.

Interactive Theater Exterior

reelXperience Entertainment, which is based in Texas, is proposing a whole new approach to the movie going experience. They’ve described it as “a theme park-like movie experience” and they’re hoping to partner with studios to offer customized content. Currently, the plan is to build standalone complexes that could be rolled out in major cities such as Las Vegas as early as 2017.

In media interviews, the founders have described the experiences that they have envisioned in a couple of different ways. The theaters would feature traditional theaters, where guests could watch recently released movies or classic films on the big screen. MicroCinemas would allow guests to easily host private events. Another possible experience would involve guests dining in a room with a 360-degree screen that provides movie-based entertainment; actors would interact with guests to further bring the movie to life in an interactive way. ReelXPerience is also talking about a possible experience that would involve watching a movie and then entering a set designed to further deepen the experience.

Other elements such as walking the red carpet, curated retail, viewing movie props, serving film-inspired cuisine and viewing films in a whole new way are under development. “An opportunity to become the star is everyone’s fantasy, and only a few really get to enjoy that kind of celebrity,” said Deven May, entertainer and reelXperience creative director. “Everyone gets to come, play and be a star. We even have paparazzi on our team to capture the red carpet moments.”

As the company has described, “reelXperience Entertainment is a premier entertainment destination that integrates aspects of feature films into live interactive performances and sets inspired by the motion pictures. The result is the ultimate immersion experience, with the magic of the movies coming to life right before guests’ eyes.”

The company’s tagline is great: “Coming soon to save the movies.” The idea of creating interactive movie experiences at scale is enticing. Audiences in big cities – and perhaps even eventually in more suburban areas – could take part in film events that feel like a real night out. The concessions aren’t the main attraction. The ability to fully experience the movie world and to take it to another level of immersion, authenticity, and story sounds incredibly engaging. It also sounds like an ambitious concept that, if it can be pulled off, may have arrived just at the right time for Millennials and Gen Z consumers who are demanding more. We’re looking forward to seeing how the reelXperience story unfolds, and if they are in fact able to save the movies.

Images and video sourced courtesy of reelXperience

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