co-founder

CONSUME.
Image: Spencer Whalen / getty

Whatever you do, don’t look away. 

Stacey Spikes, the co-founder of the ongoing psychological experiment known as MoviePass, has a new offer he’s sure you can’t refuse: absolutely free movie tickets. 

All he needs from you in exchange is whatever shred of self respect you’ve somehow managed to hold onto as you shuffle through this modern hellscape. 

Announced via Kickstarter, Spike’s new movie-related scheme comes across as even more harebrained than its MoviePass precursor. PreShow, as the eventually to-be-released app is called, offers you credits redeemable for movie tickets in exchange for watching roughly 20 minutes worth of ads. And we do mean watching.  

According to the PreShow FAQ page, some form of facial-tracking software will ensure that your attention doesn’t waver — even for a moment.

“We use proprietary facial recognition technology,” the page explains in response to a question about how the company knows if a user is watching the ads. “That’s why it’s so easy to pause the viewing, and resume it later, at your leisure.”

And don’t even think about trying to walk away. “The motion detector automatically pauses playback if you have to step away,” explains the KickStarter pitch. “You can resume watching anytime at your leisure.”

Now, forcing yourself to watch branded content in exchange for entertainment might be worth it for those pinching pennies. Let’s be real, that is very much the deal that has allowed television to exist for so long. And yet, at least for now, participating in PreShow actually costs money

That’s right, at present you have to pay between $15 and $60 for invites to the thing.

In other words, you’re paying today to watch ads in the future in order to receive credits that can then later be redeemed for movie tickets. There might, just maybe, be an unnecessary step or two in there somewhere. 

Oh yeah, and then there’s the question of what happens to your data. PreShow insists that it takes privacy seriously. “Nobody is recorded,” emphasizes the Kickstarter page, “no personally identifiable data is shared, all data is aggregated and anonymized to brand partners.”

De-anonymizing data has been shown to be relatively easy, however, so make of PreShow’s claims what you will.  

The Kickstarter page tells those plunking down $60 that the app has an “estimated delivery” of this July, so you have at least until then to decide whether this madness is for you — or to throw your smartphone into the sea. The choice is up to you. 

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