- Moviebill, a company that creates augmented reality (AR) experiences for movie theaters, is working with theater chain Regal Entertainment on AR games and entertainment for mobile users stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AR features are available in the Regal App, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Moviebill yesterday released the first AR game called "Pop-a-Corn" that challenges users of the Regal app to toss digitally rendered popcorn into virtual buckets to score points. The company on April 14 will introduce a series of interactive 3D labyrinths called "Movie Mazes," followed by "Regal Crown Toss" on April 21.
- To see the AR features, U.S. mobile users need to download the free Regal App and tap on the Moviebill icon in the upper right corner of their smartphone screens. Moviebill will announce more AR experiences this summer, per its announcement.
Moviebill's AR activations aim to entertain people who can't go to the movies as authorities nationwide order the closure of public gathering places like movie theaters to suppress the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. With theaters shuttered, movie fans have turned to digital media for entertainment, helping to drive a 34% jump in smartphone data usage last month from a year earlier, per media measurement company Comscore. Moviebill's AR content in the Regal app can help to engage movie fans as they rely on their smartphones for games and entertainment until theaters reopen.
That disruption has led studios to revamp their calendars and delay the openings of highly anticipated movies like "Mulan," "Black Widow," "No Time to Die" and "A Quiet Place Part II" until later this year, delaying the associated marketing plans and promotional efforts, which in recent years have included AR and other mobile integrations. This week, Universal Pictures will release "Trolls World Tour" on streaming platforms after scrapping plans to premiere the animated feature in theaters, which it will promote with custom mixtapes released by Pandora and Xfinity.
In the past, Moviebill's AR activations were focused on in-theater entertainment for smartphone users. In addition to creating AR content that people could see by scanning movie posters with their smartphones, the company also handed out scannable print playbills. The company two years ago distributed 1 million copies of Moviebill for the release of "The Avengers: Infinity War," and drove millions of AR activations among users of the Regal app.
Moviebill and Regal are among the companies whose operations have been enormously disrupted by the pandemic. The shutdowns of movie theaters may cost the industry about $17 billion in lost revenue worldwide if they persist through the end of next month, according to an estimate by the Hollywood Reporter.