Sparks flew last year at CinemaCon when Regal CEO Amy Miles and IMAX’s Greg Foster floated the idea of allowing texting in theaters. So how fast will audiences reject in-theater gaming? Disney’s Second Screen Live program, introduced this week at CinemaCon, encourages moviegoers to play interactive games on their iPads while watching a film in a theater. A home video version for select Disney Blu-Ray titles launched in 2011. “Of course you hear a lot from exhibition, ‘we don’t allow cell phones’”, Disney Exhibitor Relations VP Nancy Klueter said this morning at a CinemaCon panel on theater showmanship. “This screening would be inviting those people to bring their technology so you wouldn’t be offending them”. Disney and their exhibition partners hope the ploy will bring younger audiences back to theaters. When the program tested with The Nightmare Before Christmas, “50 percent of the audience had an iPad”, Klueter said. The initiative is still young. Theaters will have to install wifi or some way for users to connect to the Second Screen experience. Disney hasn’t announced which of their films will get the live interactive treatment but Disney classics are strong contenders with the company’s older-skewing superhero slate potentially to follow, Klueter told me: “Marvel will probably fit in there at some time”.

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