Whether a cinema audience is captivated by a test screening of a movie is often a multi-million dollar issue. Such audiences are carefully grilled afterwards about which bits they liked but it’s hard to get objective measures of moment-by-moment engagement (certainly if a major re-edit is required).
Today’s invention is a way to detect signs of distraction among audience members.
Some microphones are placed under seats in a cinema (any voice recordings made would be distorted to protect identities of viewers). Since the sound field created at each showing of a given movie is largely repeatable, it would be possible to subtract the local background rustling, muttering, crunching, giggling noises from the film soundtrack (even if it was set to the earsplitting levels of “Revenge of the Mechanoid Zombies II”).
Just the total volume of noise would provide filmmakers with a second-by-second insight into whether a movie was grabbing attention (people sit very still when paying close attention).
It would be particularly good for assessing adverts (I would be easily detected saying “ohmygodhowcrass” in response to most of these).