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This App Will Give You Free Movie Tickets in Exchange for Your Soul and Sanity

PreShow uses facial-recognition tech to constantly monitor you during 20 minutes of advertising—and if you look away, it pauses automatically.

by River Donaghey
Mar 25 2019, 5:44pm

A Clockwork Orange still via IMDb

MoviePass was a magnificent, unsustainable dream. For a few glorious months, everyone and their stepdad could go see 30 movies a month for less than the cost of one normal ticket. And then it all went to shit. First, there was the surge pricing, then the weird movie limitations, and then the whole thing spiraled into a depressing, confusing mess.

Now, MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes is back with a brand-new app called PreShow to help you see movies on the cheap again, CNET reports—and all it'll cost you is your eyes, your soul, and maybe your sanity.

PreShow, which is currently crowdfunding through Kickstarter, promises to give you a free movie ticket in exchange for sitting through 15 to 20 minutes of advertisements beforehand. Oh, that's easy, you might be thinking. I'll just let the commercials play while I watch an episode of The Office or whatever and then, bam, I get a free ticket. It's better than MoviePass!

Seems simple, right? Not evil at all! Well, uh, think again: PreShow will use facial recognition to make sure you're watching every mind-numbing second of those ads—and they'll automatically pause if you look away.

Here's a succinct explanation of just how completely fucked this bleak, futuristic nightmare is, courtesy of CNET:

Forgoing a password, PreShow's app will only unlock with your phone's facial recognition technology. And while you're watching the ads to earn that free ticket, your phone's camera monitors your level of attention. Walk away or even obscure part of your face? The ad will pause after five seconds.

"You can start and stop the PreShow video whenever you like," the Kickstarter says, trying and failing to make the thing sound Normal and Fine. "The motion detector automatically pauses playback if you have to step away. You can resume watching anytime at your leisure."

"If it weren't for facial recognition, I don't think we could still do it," Spikes told CNET. "We had two problems to solve: We didn't want people creating dummy accounts, and we're dealing with real currency at the end of the day, so we needed to uniquely lock it."

What is a free movie ticket worth to you, really? Is it worth watching 20 minutes of branded content while the app watches you back, making sure your eyes are constantly glued to the screen, unblinking and focused, Clockwork Orange-style? PreShow's Kickstarter swears that each ad will be "high quality, entertaining," and "an entertainment value in and of itself," which is, uh, a truly dystopian promise.

But apparently, not everyone sees it that way. PreShow's Kickstarter has already raised more than its initial $15,000 goal, with more than 500 backers and over a month left to go on the campaign. A good number of people are, somehow, extremely down for this?

If subjecting yourself Black Mirror-style to 20 minutes of forced, closely monitored advertising in exchange for a free movie seems like a reasonable trade to you, then great! Head on over to Kickstarter and make a pledge right now. Just know that when this technology becomes the norm and your TV show won't come back from a commercial break until it knows you've engaged with an adequate amount of advertising minutes, it will be your fault. You did this to us. You sold your soul to an app for the price of a $15 movie ticket. I hope that screening of Shazam was worth it.

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