Could the 'Looper' In-Theater Commentary Track from Director Rian Johnson Start a Trend?
The theater experience is great for some, and terrible for others, and it greatly varies depending on the venue, the movie, and those pesky human beings that always seem to populate said venues. You’ve probably heard of director commentaries — and you may even have listened to a couple in your day — but how about a director’s commentary to listen to at the theater? Rian Johnson, director of Brick and The Brothers Bloom, has done exactly that for his new science fiction film, Looper.
First, here’s the trailer for Looper if you haven’t already seen it:
So if Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a young Bruce Willis in a time-travel science fiction alternate universe doesn’t seem interesting, I don’t know what will. It’s in theaters right now, and director Rian Johnson has decided to do a DVD/Blu Ray commentary for the film, except instead of playing in the comfort of your own home, you bring the audio track to the theater and time it up with the film. He’s done this already for one other film, The Brothers Bloom, and the overwhelmingly positive response brought him back to do another one for this new film.
Here is the commentary (this will spoil the film if you listen to it now and haven’t seen it):
Cell phones are a problem in theaters, if you’ve ever seen the bright distracting glow of a screen in a dark theater, then at some point you’ve been completely taken out of the magic that is the movie-going experience. This commentary is only for those people who can respect those around them, or choose screenings that may not have as many people so that the audio playing in your ear does not disturb. Johnson even recommends at the beginning to figure out a way to pause and play the commentary without having to turn on your screen.
Basically, the way this works, is that there is a sync point at the beginning of the film where you’re supposed to un-pause the recording, and then let it play the rest of the movie. I have not had the opportunity to see Looper just yet, but I do plan on going to the theater a second time to listen to the commentary. It will be interesting if this commentary track gets more attention. I think this is an incredible way to get fans more involved in the film and actually support your bigger fans.
Could there be other interesting ways to combine external recordings with movie screenings? I don’t think it will be long before adventurous directors figure out how to expand their story using an audio track of sorts — perhaps even enhance the story in ways that regular viewers miss out on. I’m a big proponent of seeing movies in a theater, but it’s not always feasible for most people, and many live in areas that only show the biggest Hollywood films. Rian Johnson is as big a film geek as any, so if you are planning on seeing Looper, considering attending once more at a less crowded time and enjoying this commentary.
What do you guys think? Are there ways that you can imagine a story being expanded with an audio track? Could audio commentaries get you to go back to the theater a second time, or maybe even give movies a second chance that you weren’t thrilled about on a first viewing?