All the kids (and a lot of the adults) in my neighborhood are playing "Pokemon Go" hunting enhanced reality creatures near the local parks and soccer field. It's a fun evolution of video games that's taken most of the country by storm.
And the possibilities this offers for those of us in show business are endless.
I heard a local DJ map out a version of the game that could be marketed alongside "Ghostbusters". First you'd see the movie and then you'd head outside to hunt for ghosts. When you found one, you'd turn on your mobile phone's "Proton stream" to capture it. But you'd need a couple of other people to launch their proton streams as well (being careful not to cross them) and then somebody else to open up their cell phone "trap".
Entertainment. Enhanced movie. Community. All combined to create a fun, feel good adventure.
Like a lot of things in show business -- Pokemon Go is copying what's gone before while revealing a wildly profitable future.
Back in my day, we only had movies. But once in a while, somebody like Producer William Castle would come along to sell something like "13 Ghosts" -- where you were handed a special viewer as you entered the theatre which would allow you to see the ghosts in the movie. Ghosts invisible unless you used Castle's special device.
Castle would later go on to make films like "The Tingler" in which seats in the theatre were wired to shock audience members into believing they were being attacked by the titular character.
But these highly successful marketing schemes were really just an enhancement of something that had been going on in movie houses since the 1930's -- "The Spook Show".
I went to my first Spook Show when I was about 12. A local movie house was screening a couple of classic Frankenstein films on Halloween. But there was more to the show than that.
There was a magician doing spooky illusions, Dracula and the Mummy wandering the aisles looking for victims, and best of all -- between the two movies -- a woman in a cage who transformed into a Gorilla before our shocked eyes -- said Ape then breaking from the cage to chase us all into the lobby to buy more popcorn.
This was a sideshow attraction accomplished with lighting and skrims that's still around today and still sends shocked rubes scrambling for the safety of the midway at its climax.
Over the last while, I've blogged about 3D and VR and other ways films are marketed. And while you might be able to come up with an enhanced reality app for your own film, perhaps the way things are going is actually back where they've been before -- offering audiences something more than just going to the local multiplex to see a film.
Maybe your rom-com should be introduced by a set from a local stand-up comic. Perhaps your audience could have their own laser blasters to fire at the invading aliens in your sci-fi, CGI epic.
And what would be the harm of augmenting your horror film with a live spook show.
It might ensure that you get a longer theatrical run (and more publicity) before you disappear into the Netflix back catalog.
If you want to see the future, it never hurts to glance back into the past.
Enjoy Your Sunday.