As humans, our powers of recall are highly fallible. If we see a movie with a killer ending, we can easily forget that our attention wandered during the first act, or that we had a serious question mark over where it was all going. While movies can still get away with this in theaters to some extent, on-demand platforms are far less forgiving. It’s a central tenet of the audience revolution that if the first act of a movie, or the first 10 minutes of a TV show doesn’t hold their attention, they’ll switch over to one of the other myriad options available for their viewing pleasure. It means that the first act is more important than ever before; it’s now critical that it draws the audience in and holds their attention.
But audience testing techniques used in the industry all too often rely on audience recall to evaluate each act of a movie, meaning that critical first act feedback is unreliable or missed altogether. SARI’s Real Time Audience Engagement approach to screen testing has been developed with this in mind. We measure engagement in real time throughout the movie, giving us an overall read out of where the audience was engaged and where we started to lose them. Being able to pinpoint these scenes means we can explore them in depth in discussion groups afterwards and find out what was really going on. Were they bored? Confused? Disgusted? And most importantly, we find out what the movie makers can do in the edit to hold on to the audience and build the right amount of tension in the first act to keep them watching to the very end.
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