An interactive movie experience, where audiences can decide how a movie's plot unfolds, and how it ends, is set to the launch in the UAE and Saudi Arabia on Thursday.
At Ctrl, to be available at Vox Cinema outlets across the UAE, cinema-goers will be able to decide the fate of a film's lead character via a voting system on a smartphone app, and change the film's storyline and the course of the movie.
The first movie to be shown, an action thriller called Late Shift, will have 180 decision points and seven alternative endings, Vox Cinemas said. A new technology will then aggregate the audience votes and choose the most popular option.
Ctrl will initially be available at Vox Cinemas at Mall of the Emirates, Yas Mall, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Al Zahia, The Galleria Al Maryah Island and Wafi City.
"Ctrl seamlessly combines the realism and production values of film with the interactivity of a video game to create a new dimension of engagement. I have no doubt that this unique and exhilarating participatory experience will prove hugely popular with cinemagoers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia," said Toni El Massih, chief content officer at Vox Cinemas.
Late Shift is directed and co-written by Tobias Weber, who is also the co-founder of Kino Industries, which has pioneered the interactive movie technology. The film follows Matt Thompson, a college student who works as a car park attendant, who finds himself embroiled in London's criminal underworld.
"Viewer voting is so reflexive, and fast, that the movie never misses a beat – it simply goes where the majority of the audience tells it to go," Deadline said in its review of the experience in 2017. "Using a simple cell phone app, viewers make choices, large and small, about where the film will go next. The decision points come hot and heavy; there are about 180 of them in the film, a dozen major, the rest fairly minor."
Those concerned about distracting smartphone usage during a movie need not worry, said Chady Eli Mattar, the Lebanese film producer and chief executive and co-founder of Kino Industries.
“The movie doesn’t stop – it’s seamless,” he told Screen Daily earlier in July. “The buttons come up like a subtitle; your phone has an app that goes completely dark when there is no choice. It’s extremely elegant.”
Tickets prices for Late Shift have not been revealed but show times are 6pm and 8pm from Sunday to Thursday, and 5pm, 7pm and 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The film is rated PG13.