AUSTIN, TX (USA Today) -- The 10-day South By Southwest Festival has always been a mashup of movies, music and technology. This year, there's a growing focus on the rise of entertainment apps to help you better enjoy those and other pursuits.
Movie news and ticketing site Fandango is showing a new movie buzz indicator "Fanticipation" at the Austin festival. By tracking moviegoer interest in new movies on its mobile and Web platform - and early ticket sales - Fandango hopes to provide an early take on weekend box-office performance with the new ranking.
"There is some degree of excitement that people generate from looking at the results of the box office after the weekend," says Fandango president Paul Yanover. "This allows people to get that same kind of interest without waiting for the box office."
The new feature will appear on Fandango.com and in a new weekly video series, "Weekend Ticket," in which host Dave Karger will use the Fanticipation data to inform moviegoers of the weekend's most anticipated movies and, subsequently, help pair viewers with the best choice among the new releases. The first episode, to be filmed at SXSW, will include interviews with the cast of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (including Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Olivia Wilde). The film has its U.S. premiere Friday night at the festival.
An upcoming update to Fandango's mobile app will allow the video to play on mobile devices.
AMC Networks, which owns several cable networks including AMC and Sundance Channel, is announcing Yeah!, a new video streaming service, at the festival. The small start-up-style venture within the company launches with a library of 14 pay-per-rental films ($4.99 for a rental that lasts 30 days, though once you start watching you must finish within 48 hours), each enhanced with cast and filmmaker interviews, trivia and quizzes.
Initially, the offerings target young male audiences with films such as Natural Born Killers and Reservoir Dogs, but the library will expand with a movie each week. On the way: Caddyshack and Ocean's Eleven.
Movie lovers can watch now on www.yeahtv.com; the iPad app is due this summer. Additions to Natural Born Killers include new hour-plus interviews with cast members Juliette Lewis and Tom Sizemore. Viewers can go back and forth between the interviews and movie.
New facts about the movie pop up constantly below the film video. (One Killers example: Some actors and crew ate hallucinogenic mushrooms on the set where the characters do in the film.) Users can share their activity on social networks as well. "We look at this as being an innovative new way to experience the movies that you love and already have a relationship with," says Lisa Judson, general manager of Yeah TV!
SXSW is "an intersection of entertainment and interactive, but more importantly it's a statement of innovation," Judson says. "It is the perfect place for us."
Web-based movie company Tugg.com, which bowed last year at SXSW, will be touting new features to help film lovers attract smaller independent and older event-type movies to their local theaters - and assist promoters in connecting with moviegoers; a mobile app is being considered. "Much like South by Southwest, Tugg is working to bridge the divide between tech and film," says co-founder Nicolas Gonda. "Using the Tugg platform enables filmmakers to directly engage with their communities and audiences to better support a film's release in theaters."
Thousands of musicians, from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the alt-rap duo behind sleeper hit Thrift Shop, to Green Day, will be packing venues from corner music bars to Austin City Limits Live. Music app purveyors such as streaming service Spotify will set up residence for four days in downtown Austin inviting festivalgoers to listen to live acts and a DJ. Also on the scene: music sharing site Soundcloud will host a party and announce updates to its service.
And start-up EvntLive will reveal its plans to integrate mobile devices into live concerts and stream sold-out gigs to smartphones, tablets and computers, creating "a new type of experience for music fans that simulates the experience of actually being there," says co-founder David Carrico. "At a physical concert, you would chat with your friends, purchase merchandise, and see different angles of the show. We are able to bring those experiences to you wherever you are."
The mix of technology and entertainment at SXSW means "a higher concentration of the pacemakers of technology are there," says Brian Blau, research director in consumer services for research firm Gartner. "In today's world, where we are all hyper-connected through our smart devices and we are trying new things all the time, South By Southwest embodies all of that."
In the past, apps such as Twitter and Foursquare gained momentum at SXSW. Twitter's recently launched video app Vine is expected to be used my many festival attendees to share experiences - and gain viral traction. New calendar and contact apps such as Evernote Hello (evernote.com) and Tempo (Tempo.ai) might earn followers who test them out to juggle the busy conference, which drew 300,000 attendees across all the festivals last year, according to Austin-based app company Rocksauce Studios.
Silicon Valley start-up 1World aims for something completely different. Its new app, launching at SXSW, helps users make up their minds about hot-button topics of the day in news, politics and ethics. The new app and website (www.1worldonline.com) lets you read opinions on various sides of an issue and vote in polls.
When you vote, you see how the group of 1World users came down on an issue, with breakdowns by sex, marital status and political alignment (Republican, Democrat, Moderate, etc.). "You can see our society is getting polarized. It's becoming a real problem," says 1World Online CEO Alex Fedosseev. "One of the things we are trying to do is reduce this polarization and help people find some common ground. At least people will be able separate opinions from facts."
Just as many employees are working on top-notch commentary as on the technology needed to crunch user opinions, he says. At SXSW, Fedosseev says, "we aspire to be like Twitter. ... We are confident our technology is going to make a big splash."