Audience Participation The new rules for watching movies.

Audience Participation The new rules for watching movies.

  • Words George Upton
  • Photograph Sylvia Ballhause

In the US and many other countries, you may only ever be reminded that you’re sharing a darkened movie theater with hundreds of other people when a ripple of laughter or the occasional gasp erupts; in India, however, the cinema is a collective and interactive experience. Viewers will cheer and sing along, shouting to the characters or throwing coins at the screen in celebration. If the movie is met with disapproval, the crowd will not suffer in silence.

With a slew of new interactive features recently launching on streaming services, we might all soon enjoy a more participatory experience of the movies: Netflix has Netflix Party, Amazon Prime includes Amazon Watch Party and Disney Plus offers GroupWatch. These “virtual parties,” designed to allow viewers to watch along with remote...

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