Lionsgate to Offer Sign Language Interpretation Via Mobile App for Its 2017 Film ‘Wonder’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A new mobile app is designed to sync up movies with sign language interpretation, and “Wonder,” the 2017 film starring Julia Roberts and Jacob Tremblay, will be the first live-action, American feature film to make use of it.

Lionsgate, the studio that put out “Wonder,” announced Tuesday that it teamed up with the mobile application company Actiview and deaf advocate Nyle DiMarco, which provides film accessibility solutions for the blind, deaf and foreign language speaking audiences, to make “Wonder” compatible via the company’s app.

Here’s how it works: users watch “Wonder” on their TVs using any available platform, and then the app, via a second screen like your phone or tablet, “listens” to the movie in the same way an app like Shazam listens to songs or commercials in order to figure out where in the movie the viewer is. The playback with the sign-language interpretation then matches the film accordingly.

Also Read: ‘A Quiet Place’: John Krasinski Says Cast Learned Sign Language for Silent Thriller (Exclusive Video)

Lionsgate also plans to release all four “Hunger Games” movies in this way, providing audio description, multi-language dubs, subtitles, captions, and amplified audio.

“I am so excited about working with Lionsgate and Actiview to make the inspiring film ‘Wonder’ accessible to everyone and offer them an ASL viewing option,” DiMarco said in a statement, who won “America’s Next Top Model” in 2015. “It allows me to take a huge step forward in my campaign to make increasing accessibility a priority in the TV and film industry.”

“Wonder” follows the story of the Pullman family, whose youngest child, Auggie, is born with facial differences. When Auggie enters mainstream elementary school for the first time, his journey unites his family, his school, and his community, and proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Also Read: Bryan Cranston Calls Playing Disabled Character in ‘The Upside’ a ‘Case of Catch-22’

The Actiview app is available on iOS devices. “Wonder” is available now on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital.

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Sleeper Hit ‘Wonder’ Crosses $300M Worldwide

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Faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges on Stephen Chbosky‘s Wonder, what makeup designer Arjen Tuiten was able to pull off was as wondrous as the story he was working to tell, landing him his first Oscar nomination last month.
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Lionsgate’s ‘Wonder’ Tops DVD, Blu-ray Disc Sales and Rental Charts

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Why Studios Need to Start Focusing on Infrequent Moviegoers (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Like most consumer industries, Hollywood focuses primarily on its highest value customers: frequent moviegoers. As the argument goes, frequent moviegoers can be counted on to reliably see films.

But moviegoing frequency is declining. While total box office receipts neared all-time record levels in 2017, total attendance, measured by the number of tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada, declined to the lowest total in 20-plus years.

And as recently as December, a PSB Research survey discovered only 62 percent of Americans ages 18-59 meet the industry’s definition of “frequent moviegoers” — down 15 percent just this decade.

The decline of the frequent moviegoer poses an immediate problem at the box office, but perhaps an even more insidious one for studios’ research departments. For decades, frequent moviegoers have served as the industry’s leading basis for knowledge about its consumers.

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Moviegoing frequency is and has long been the chief criterion for participation in movie marketing research. In other words, positioning studies, trailer tests, focus groups and weekly tracking surveys measure the opinions and concerns of people who attend movies on a regular basis.

As the number of American adults that meets researchers’ standard frequency criteria has dwindled, studios have lost touch with a substantial portion of their potential audience. Millions of people who otherwise are solid candidates to see films in theaters are excluded from the research that helps decide what gets greenlit, what gets marketing budget and where TV spots get aired.

Although movie market research has evolved from the pencil-and-paper methods of its inception in the 1970s, basic precepts remain mired in the past. Legacy research standards, like the demographic “quad” audience segmentation, maintain concepts of audience demographics and moviegoing behaviors that are out of touch with present-day realities.

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It’s little wonder that movie researchers are routinely flummoxed by the performance of films like “Wonder,” “Dunkirk” and “It,” each of which turned out the all-but-invisible infrequent moviegoers in droves. Similarly, the case can be made that some of 2017’s high-profile misses would have seen greater success at the box office had studios identified, interviewed, targeted and persuaded infrequents instead of just hoping that they might show up on their own accord.

In the past, studios combated attendance declines by redefining their conceptions of their audiences. For example, faced with the emergence of television and the decline of the adult, urban-centered moviegoing population in the 1950s, studios began targeting suburban teenagers via new technologies, genres and modes of advertising. Today studios are confronting a similar crisis as streaming services siphon the time and attention of would-be moviegoers, especially disruptive millennials.

Also Read: 2017 Box Office Hits and Misses, From Marvel Blockbusters to Matt Damon’s Many Duds

Ironically, by considering the infrequent moviegoer studios might actually eliminate that very category of consumer. Yet, when viewed as a metaphor for the need to bring movie marketing research into the 21st  century, 2018 is a year in which the infrequent moviegoer, from the earliest stages of creative testing up through prerelease tracking, should be at the forefront of studio research plans.

We must attend as closely to this growing population’s awareness, interest, and intent as we do to that of the dwindling number of frequent moviegoers. Beyond that, we must dedicate ourselves to understanding the myriad reasons why they do not attend movies in theaters more frequently. What are the bridges that draw them to theaters, and what are the barriers that keep them away?

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‘Wonder’ Star Jacob Tremblay on the Importance of Always Choosing Kind (Video)

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Jacob Tremblay may only be 11 years old, but the “Wonder” actor has already learned an important life lesson: to always be kind.

Coincidentally, that’s also the message conveyed in his new film, “Wonder.” The touching story follows a young boy, Auggie Pullman, who suffers from Treacher Collins syndrome, which affects the development of bones and other facial tissue and therefore causes differences in his face.

“When I heard the message of the film, I was just like, ‘I gotta be a part of it,” Tremblay — who rose to fame in the 2015 thriller “Room” — told TheWrap. “If you are a parent, [it’s important] to show your kids to choose [to be] kind because bullying is a terrible thing, and bullying usually happens at school, a place where kids need to feel safe so they can learn and develop who they are, as well … and they can’t do that when they are being judged.”

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“Wonder,” written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, stars Tremblay, Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts. In the film, Auggie was homeschooled for most of his life, until his mom, played by Roberts, decides it might be good for him to be around other kids his age. But he gets mocked for his appearance, until a couple of classmates look past the facial differences and discover the wonderful, smart and funny Auggie underneath it all.

It’s a heartbreaking yet uplifting tale about not judging a book by its cover, an idiom as old as time. And “Wonder” had a completely different tone to Tremblay’s previous film, “Room,” in which he starred as a young boy who is held captive for seven years with his mother, played by Brie Larson, and then experiences the world for the first time after their escape. The 2015 film received widespread critical acclaim and scored Larson the Academy Award for Best Actress.

“I think [these two movies] were completely different,” Tremblay said about “Room” and “Wonder.” “‘Room’ was a very dark movie, but ‘Wonder’ is a fun, light movie that sends out an important message. There is a big difference.”

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Treacher Collins syndrome affects an estimated 1 in 50,000 people – and Tremblay reached out to some of the patients at a Canadian hospital to prepare for the role.

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“When my parents were researching facial differences on line, we found a group of children from SickKids hospital in Toronto and we reached out to them and asked if they could send me letters of experiences or stories or stuff like that and we got a bunch back and I put them in a binder,” Tremblay explained. “All these letters were about experiences of being bullied. I would read that before I did the scene and it would help me think about how Auggie is thinking when he’s getting bullied and it would help me feel like Auggie.”

And getting Tremblay to look like Auggie was no easy feat — according to the actor, it took about two hours in the morning to put on the prosthetics, and about 30 minutes to take it off.

“We were filming in the summer time in Vancouver which means it was really hot, which means I got really sweaty … which means I got really itchy. You can’t itch on the prosthetic or else you will rip it and it’s really expensive. But it’s really interesting how they do it — there are a lot of pieces for the prosthetic. They have a neck piece, they have a helmet connected to a mechanism that pulls down my lower eye lids, the main face piece, a wig, contact lenses and dentures. [It was] a lot of work.”

“Wonder” was released on Nov. 17 and has since grossed over $100 million at the domestic box office. The critically-acclaimed film has also received Critics Choice Award nominations for Best Young Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Hair & Makeup.

“I definitely did learn a lot and I think so did a lot of people,” Tremblay said. “Go see ‘Wonder,’ it’s really fun and it will teach you a lot. I hope that everyone will choose kind as well.”

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