To keep tabs on movie buzz, studio execs these days monitor the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer and collect audience response cards at test screenings, as memorably portrayed in 2008’s What Just Happened, starring Robert De Niro, as Ben, a Hollywood producer in crisis.
In one of the film’s best sequences, we get a bird’s eye view of Ben speeding home on the freeway in his Porsche Cayenne. He suddenly swerves into the shoulder, slams on the hazards, and rips into the box of completed audience forms. The close-up of De Niro’s face is all we need to know—they hated it. The movie is going to bomb. His career is over.
Surely, technology has a cooler solution for collecting audience feedback? Immersion Neuroscience thinks so. Its founders—Dr. Paul Zak and Dr. Jorge Barraza—work in neurobiology-based wearables they claim can help execs predict ticket sales. Following early funding from DARPA and in-the-field research for the Pentagon, the duo arrived in California, and have developed a device with what they say is a 61 percent accuracy rate.