from the LA Times

Disney’s ‘Little Mermaid Second Screen Live’ adds iPad twist

Family and Film: Will parents buy a break from moviegoing tradition to let kids play games along with second-screen showings?

"The Little Mermaid"

By Nicole Sperling

For many parents of young children, the battle over limiting little ones’ time with iPads and other mobile devices is difficult and seemingly unending. They can serve as fantastic baby sitters in a pinch, but the soulless gaze they can prompt in children can be downright terrifying.

A number of scientific studies have raised red flags; this summer Public Health England, for instance, warned that children who spend more time watching screens tend to have higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to see that Disney was putting “The Little Mermaid” back in cinemas and encouraging kids to download a new related app onto their iPads and bring them to the theater. As the movie runs they can play games, compete with fellow audience members and sing along with the Disney classic.

Launched Friday in 16 theaters in Southern California, New York, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Kansas and New Jersey, the “Little Mermaid Second Screen Live” screenings are essentially a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” for the digital generation.

Disney sees “Second Screen Live” as a novel way to get young moviegoers to want to go to theaters more often.

“This is a special event. We are inviting people to break the rules,” said Disney’s head of theatrical distribution Dave Hollis. “It’s a departure from the traditional moviegoing experience. We wanted to inject a different kind of life into it.”

I had to wonder: Is the singing, brooding Ariel really not enough anymore — now the kids have to “interact” with their fellow moviegoers? For many parents (including me), sitting in a dark room with my children and not interacting is what makes moviegoing such a blissful family activity.

[ click to continue reading at the LA Times ]