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A mockup of Snackdish's theater mode
A mockup of Snackdish’s theater mode

Putting away your smartphone is one of the first rules of going to the movie theater. A bright screen in a dark room ruins the experience for everyone around you.

But one Seattle startup is planning to actually encourage people to use their phones at the movies — despite the controversy it might cause.

Snackdish, the social platform for chatting about movies and TV shows, is developing an iOS app with a special “theater mode” that uses a darker color scheme and automatically lowers the brightness of the screen. The company today launched a crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo, seeking $46,000 to make its concept a reality.

Snackdish founder Kevin Hall
Snackdish founder Kevin Hall

On the crowdfunding page, Snackdish founder Kevin Hall concedes that it will be “a controversial idea” for some. He adds, “As it is, movies theaters have had an almost 100 year head start in defining and controlling the experience. That’s a lot of cultural momentum to overcome. But enforcing this status quo actually prevents innovation, and new tools that might let moviegoers have new experiences.”

Hall tells GeekWire, “If you were to redesign the theater from scratch today, you’d change some things. We’re turning the ratchet a little bit to be able to do new things.”

Snackdish, currently available on the web, allows users to post theories, point out Easter eggs or commiserate about characters from shows or movies with friends online. The platform moves the discussion of Sunday night dramas or the weekend blockbuster from the watercooler to the web.

With the planned theater mode, you’ll be able to comment on the practical effects of the new Star Wars movie or the continuity errors in Adam Sandler’s latest flick without lighting up the whole theater.

You’ll also be able to use it in darker rooms at home, so you’re not blinded when adding a comment about a Sopranos episode.

This will be the first mobile app for Snackdish, which launched with an Indiegogo campaign a year ago. The company has relied on crowdsourcing for funding, but also to build the community.

“People get really excited about it,” Hall said. “Crowdsourcing is a vote of approval. … It builds a constituency around what you’re trying to make.”

Snackdish is looking to raise the $46,000 over the next month-and-a-half. Users can access the platform’s web version now, and the mobile app is currently scheduled to ship in September. Here’s a video explaining how Snackdish works.


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