Japan's Sony Pictures is to overturn the established practice of film programming by inviting audiences to chose which movies to screen - and at which venues, as well as at what times.
Sony Pictures Entertainment (Japan) will launch a new service offering special screenings of Sony films, based on Internet polls.
Called Dream Theatre, the service will allow visitors to Sony's fee-based MovieEater website to propose not only titles, but venues and schedules for screenings.
When between 100 to 150 individuals have selected a film, they will be able to lease a screen at their nearest available theatre complex. The selections will come from half of the 300 films in the Sony library, including classics such as Easy Rider, Taxi Driver and Lawrence Of Arabia to recent titles such as Spider-Man and Panic Room.
The first trial poll started on August 26, with the most popular films to be screened at Sony Dream World, an event promoting Sony software and services, to be held mid-September in Yokohama.
Sony plans to start a regular service by the end of September and use it to screen nearly 200 films in 2003, in co-operation with major multiplex operators. Adult admissions to the audience-selected screenings are expected to cost the same as a standard ticket.
The Dream Theatre concept will not only generate new revenues from library films, it will also reducing risk by having a guaranteed audience.
In addition, it is also intended to assess the tastes of regular cinemagoers, many of whom, having contracted 'Blockbuster-fatigue' have become bored with the unvaried diet of new mainstream films, both from Hollywood and Japan, at their local multiplex.