For some, going to the movie theater is a magical experience. Some might even save their ticket stubs from favorite films viewed on the big screen. And, what makes every collectible better? An AR collectible, of course. A partnership between Regal Cinemas and Moviebill is showing us how it’s done.
An Ongoing Partnership
Regal is a cinema chain stretching across America. That includes the continental United States, but it also includes Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. If you don’t already know where to find the Regal Cinema nearest to you, you can find it on this list.
The Regal app is home to the Moviebill scanner. Moviebill, an AR studio that launched in 2016, has been working with Regal for a number of years on AR collectibles to bring even more magic to big-budget movies “to keep the theatrical experience going long after the credits have rolled.”
“With digital experiences providing brands innovative new ways to interact with their fans, we at Regal plan to be at the forefront of this consumer engagement,” Regal’s Media VP, Chris Sylvia, said in a release shared with ARPost. “Through our partnership with Moviebill, we provide unique and differentiated AR content, exclusive to our moviegoers, through the Regal app.”
Following a beta experience that launched last year, Moviebill is now announcing a new generation of virtual collectibles for moviegoers. To learn more, we talked with Moviebill founder and CEO James Andrew Felts.
Lessons Learned in Beta
One of the main points of the trial was to explore the potential for AR collectibles as NFTs. Don’t worry, you don’t need an Ethereum wallet for an AR movie ticket.
“As we were looking at the NFT space early in 2021, we were considering bringing NFTs to market very quickly,” said Felts. “Then we realized there were some challenges, primarily environmental.”
There were also ease-of-use challenges. If you have or have looked into non-fungible tokens, you know that setting up an NFT wallet is a lot harder than setting up a movie theater’s loyalty app. That said, the beta also helped to quantify how different audiences respond to different promotions.
“Different kinds of AR activations and collectibles attract different kinds of users,” said Felts. “Those data points are helping to inform us of what a sustainable product looks like in the Web3 world.”
Felts has identified four main kinds of collectible AR activation. The simplest are lightweight lenses and filters, and games. The other two are more in-depth. Felts calls these “discovery” – an AR experience that the user can watch passively play out around them, and “narratives” – these are more robust experiences that use AR to bring the viewer “into the world of the movie.”
“The problem is, how do we go from single-serve market opportunities to narrative experiences using AR as the medium,” said Felts. “We’ve got to start understanding what customers want and creating experiences that are not just tech showcases.”
What Does an AR Collectible Look Like?
Let’s back up. How do these AR collectibles work, and what do they look like?
When a moviegoer uses the Regal app to buy a ticket, they’re sent a link to claim their digital collectible. Going through the link reveals a custom-designed digital case that opens to reveal the AR collectible. Later, users can go back through those deep links to continue interacting with the AR experience.
This iteration of the AR collectibles is kicking off with an activation for Illumination Entertainment’s Minions: The Rise of Gru. However, the partnership has previously produced activations for installments in the Jurassic Park, Fantastic Beasts, Toy Story, and Marvel franchises, as well as standalone films like The Northman and The Bob’s Burgers Movie.
“Customers who see movies in theaters have an expectation for the best content available on the planet Earth,” said Felts. “Our passion is serving these unbelievable ultra fans with all new content around the movies they love.”
Always Off the Chain?
Moviebill may not be in the NFT world right now, but they’re still very much on Felts’ mind. The time might be right in the future, but there’s still a lot to learn.
“Major IP NFTs have not hit expected numbers,” said Felts. “We’ve got to be mindful of what our customers know, what they want, and lead them into that world.”
Felts’ likened AR in entertainment to nickelodeon machines – early film projectors that some early twentieth-century viewers needed time to get used to. With some more education on the part of creators and some more normalization on the part of consumers, who knows what could be next for AR collectibles.
“Web3 and the metaverse have arrived in the entertainment space,” said Felts. “Our position at the moment is to provide the most practical onramp.”
“The Metaverse Has Arrived in the Entertainment Space”
The kind of delivery and quality experience that many of us may expect from a flashy NFT project is available through the Regal and Moviebill partnership without all of the hassle of wallets and blockchains. The future of AR collectibles might go that way one day, but Moviebill’s priority is exactly what it should be – an amazing experience for the viewer.