FirstLook You is bad and everyone involved should feel bad

The previews and pre-roll content for just about any movie theater in America today include at least one app you can install on your phone. Some of these apps place your phone in a silent mode and reward you with discounts on concessions for not being That Guy, while others offer you some kind of ad-related interactive experience. Cinemark's FirstLook programming now includes an ad encouraging users to conduct a "Selfie Movie Review" after the movie with a service called FirstLook You.

It's a service in partnership with Yahoo Movies to get people involved in talking about the movie when it's still fresh in their minds, and would probably be pretty cool if the implementation wasn't the worst software experience I've had so far this year.

The Cinemark ad gets users interested in the service by showing a user giving a review for a movie that is already out, and aside from exactly zero of the Selfie Movie Reviews in the ad being actual selfies — none of the users were holding phones, in fact it all looked recorded on professional cameras — it seemed like a good idea. With services like Periscope gaining popularity daily we're clearly seeing more folks interested in sharing their thoughts with the world in video form, and while I wouldn't say a separate app is needed for reviewing movies I could see how regular theater attendees would be interested. Curiosity piqued, I installed the app right there in the theater. At least, I tried to.

Somewhere in the ad I remembered a URL was flashed, but since I knew the name of the service I figured I could just check the Google Play Store, only there are no apps named FirstLook You. I fumbled around with what I thought the URL was until I struck gold, and the link on the page directed me to install an app called Vivoom. When I opened the app, FirstLook You was nowhere to be found. Vivoom is an app that lets you record 15 seconds of video, apply an interactive border, and then share it to Facebook or Twitter. Confused, I went back to the URL and tapped the Launch icon again. With Vivoom installed on my phone now, the website launched an intent that added a skin to the app, and all of a sudden it now looked like I was using an app called FirstLook Now with all of the Vivoom buttons.

How is this easier than opening Periscope or just posting to Facebook and YouTube?

Having just left Jurassic World, I recorded my 15 seconds of rambling nonsense and sent the video off to be skinned. The name of the movie, a Yahoo Movies branding, and the number of stars I ranked the film were added in a border to my video, and it was now ready to share. I left the app to share it later, thinking I may try to do a better job recording a video to share, and when I returned all of the FirstLook You branding was gone. The video I had made was still there, but in order to gain access to the FirstLook You features I had to go back to the URL from the theater and re-launch the web intent. Nothing about FirstLook You was native to the Vivoom app, so it all has to be done manually each time. How is this easier than opening Periscope or just posting to Facebook and YouTube?

It couldn't be more clear this is a brand new effort from Cinemark, Yahoo Movies, and even Vivoom, which had less than 500 installs at the time of this writing. I think the core idea behind FirstLook You is interesting, and encouraging users to share thoughts on the movie they just saw is a great way to get people involved and potentially create additional social buzz for a film. To make this work, however, just about everything involved in the execution of this idea needs to go back to the drawing board.

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter