Movie Studios, Theaters Take Hard Line on Wearable Tech

Planning to wear Google Glass or a smartwatch to the movies? Better make sure it's off once you're inside. Two movie-industry groups took a formal stance on wearable tech this week.

What time is it? If you’re in a movie theater, it’s time to turn off your wearables.

That’s the stance of the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theater Owners, according to a statement released Wednesday.

Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave.

“As has been our long-standing policy, all phones must be silenced and other recording devices, including wearable devices, must be turned off and put away at show time,” the associations said. “Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave.”

The groups described the approach as a “zero tolerance” policy on the matter, adding that theater owners may choose to involve law enforcement.

The move follows a similar mandate by Britain’s Cinema Exhibitors’ Association this past summer.

At the moment, Google Glass doesn’t pose a significant threat to theaters, because it lights up while recording and has limited battery life. But Apple’s forthcoming smartwatch, although it does not include a camera, could prove challenging because of its direct integration with the iPhone camera. Users could use the watch to remotely control their phones, making the two devices, in tandem, a double threat.

The move is another tactic in the industry’s long fight against in-theater piracy. Last year, Wired acquired a copy of “Best Practices to Prevent Film Theft,” an MPAA document that recommends theaters conduct random bag checks and hire private security firms to assist in preventing piracy.

“Movie theft causes economic harm to everyone in the industry, from film makers to theater employees,” the document states [PDF]. “Furthermore, it jeopardizes the future of movie making.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!