Asset management company Aviron Capital, private company led by a consortium of financiers with funding primarily provided by BlackRock, has acquired a substantial equity stake in Kino Industries.

Kino is the developer of CtrlMovie, an interactive movie experience enabling audiences to control the direction of a film’s narrative via a smartphone app. No financial details of the investment were disclosed.

The CtrlMovie app lets viewers vote to decide what characters will do at pivotal points in the narrative, giving a single film different plots, endings and running times depending on the audience’s choices. While interactivity has been attempted before, backers of CtrlMovie say its seamless functionality does not interrupt the action on screen. Developers promise “a deeply engaging and highly communal movie-watching experience, unlike anything that’s come before.”

Kino Industries has devised a proprietary suite of software to facilitate the writing, producing and editing of CtrlMovie content, as well as the in-theater hardware to enable its theatrical exhibition. CtrlMovie fare can also be distributed and viewed on other platforms across mobile, home entertainment channels and gaming consoles.

Aviron

Aviron will manage the capital structure of Kino Industries, including evaluating the merits of other potential strategic partners such as content creators, global distributors, and digital marketing companies. Aviron will also finance the deployment and installation of CtrlMovie-compatible equipment in movie theaters to prime the market for the launch and continued exhibition of films utilizing the CtrlMovie technology.

Through its distribution outfit, Aviron Pictures, whose president is former Lakeshore and Paramount Classics chief David Dinerstein, the company has already been active in the traditional theatrical movie game. The company said it will evaluate CtrlMovie releases for theatrical distribution.

“What struck us about CtrlMovie – beyond the innovation and elegant flow of the experience – is that it has the potential to introduce younger audiences to the movie-going experience and bring them back to the theater,” said Aviron Capital Chairman William Sadleir. “Rather than shunning the use of mobile devices in theaters, their phones can be valuable tools to actively enjoy a communal event, in real life, together. The benefits of the technology to influence box office are significant.”

Kino co-CEO Chady Eli Mattar emphasizes that members of the Kino team consider themselves filmmakers. “Our goal is to preserve the communal, big-screen experience while promoting the art of cinema by transporting audiences to a new realm of movie-going and providing filmmakers, distributors and exhibitors with the tools, support and technology to take them there,” he said. “We are excited to welcome Aviron Capital as both a strategic investor and a valuable partner with whom we can make a real difference.”

Kino Industries was formed when Zurich-based technology developer CtrlMovie teamed up with Los Angeles-based production company Silvatar Media. The technology was debuted by Kino at the AT&T Developer Program’s Shape conference in 2017.