Putting moviegoers 
in the picture


Photo by Peter Saunders

By Peter Saunders
At the end of the summer, nationwide movie theatre chain Cineplex began pilot-testing large-scale interactive video walls in the lobbies of three of its higher-volume locations in the Toronto area: the downtown Scotiabank Theatre and the suburban Queensway and Colossus Vaughan multiplexes.

The company’s digital signage team—Cineplex Digital Solutions, based in Waterloo, Ont.—worked with The Taylor Group, an exhibit design and fabrication firm with offices in Toronto and nearby Brampton, Ont., to develop the new systems. In each instance, a central screen comprising MicroTile digital signage ‘cubes’ developed by Christie in Kitchener, Ont., is flanked by portrait-mode 2.1-m (84-in.) liquid crystal displays (LCDs) from LG Canada’s Toronto facilities. As moviegoers pass by the installation, they are beckoned by images of fawning paparazzi, encouraging them to step up and have their photo taken. Interacting via touch and gesture, they can then see that photo featured on a Cineplex magazine cover on-screen and even have the mockup e-mailed to them.

“What’s on there is an opening placeholder,” explains Steve Harris, vice-president (VP) and general manager (GM) of Cineplex Digital Solutions. “There are lots of other ways to leverage this technology in the future. If you want to launch a brand, for example, this can take it to a more engaging level than a passive ad.”


As moviegoers approach the video walls, they are prompted to have their photo taken for a virtual magazine cover. Photo courtesy Cineplex

Indeed, Cineplex Media plans to sell advertising on the video walls, with the understanding such campaigns will need to be highly customized to the unique form factor. That said, with Cineplex’s existing infrastructure, there is room for such ‘experiential’ marketing to become more commonplace.

“We were looking for better ways to use our lobbies,” says Pat Marshall, VP of communications and investor relations for Cineplex. “Since many customers choose to buy their tickets online ahead of time, we don’t need as many kiosks on the premises, so there is more space available than there used to be.”

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At press time, following several months of testing, the company planned to deploy similar systems in about 20 other theatres before the busy holiday movie season.

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