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RunPee – Because movie theaters don't have pause buttons (runpee.com)
319 points by getdavidhiggins on June 22, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 130 comments

In India, we have mandatory breaks somewhere in the middle of all movies. Even for Hollywood Movies, it is just shut off, sometimes right in the middle of a fight or an intense scene. We pee, have snacks and make phone calls. :-)

My first reaction when I saw Sin City somewhere in Detroit was, "How long is this movie?" Then I realize why everyone had popcorns and everything before the movie starts.

It also helps in increasing popcorn and coffee sales. I have witnessed many folks buy items at the start and during intermission (break during the movie)

This is before my time, but I have heard from a few people that there were a few, at least one Hindi classic movie [1] back in the 70's that had a running time of 255 minutes and this movie was screened with two intermissions, understandably.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mera_Naam_Joker

Yes! We call it "Interval" or "Intermission". For a moment, I was wondering what's the need of this app :)

I remember my local cinema in the UK having an intermission back in the 80's. I remember my dad buying me an ice-cream during Back to the Future 2 from a lady that came round.

My local cinema (although it's part of a chain) still does. It's pretty cool, although it does seem to be more for buying a snack than using the toilet.

Was it Albatross flavour?

That's because Bollywood movies tend to be on the "longer side" its crazy how short most Hollywood films are now....catering to the short attention spans of their viewers.

having said that.....this app must die, its a terrible idea :)

Hollywood films have been getting longer, not shorter.


Yes, we Americans are far too unintelligent to understand the subtleties of the extended length Bollywood film. I'm frankly surprised that I can even find the movie theater before I get distracted by a fast food sign.

Perhaps have you considered that most long movies are complete trash and are just inefficiently telling a story that could be told much better in 2/3 or 1/2 the time?

The only US movie that I've seen this for was Gettysburg when they showed the Director's Cut in theaters for a limited run. My father, rest his soul, took me to see that. I recall playing Street Fighter on the arcade machine at some point during that trip. Thanks for bringing up that memory!

There's also an intermission baked-in to Kubrick's 2001 though only once have I seen it used as intended.

I saw 2001 in the cinema as a kid (I'm 28, it was re-run in a botique at the time) and I am pretty sure it was used as intended. Quite funky, really.

TIL that intermissions don't exist in a lot of countries. I always get pop-corns and coke during the second half.

No wonder the theaters often cut to black (for a break) at abrupt points during Hollywood films. A lot of Bollywood films on the other hand have well defined "half time" or intermission.

I think we used to have intervals here (the UK) but we later stopped having them.

i vaguely recall LOTR showings with intervals

I note that the app store reviews[1] mention that it does a lot of forced ad-watching. One says "must sit through a 10 second bright full screen ad for bladder medication upon opening". This seems counterproductive for an app that you may want to glance at during the film, to say the least...

[1]: https://itunes.apple.com/app/id450326239?mt=8

We created something similar, but it lets you listen to the movies audio on your device using headphones.

We have a live demo on our site if interested - http://speakerblast.com.

We think 4D movies; movies that gets the audiences' devices involved into the experience could be a way of the future. Similar to the texting PSA in China created by Volkswagen (very effective).

>We think 4D movies; movies that gets the audiences' devices involved into the experience could be a way of the future.

That is certainly an interesting idea. I'm thinking, though, that getting it to work and be stable across the many devices we have is prohibitly difficult.

If I were to do something like this, I'd look at the Firefox OS phones. I don't think they are ready yet, but crazy cheap Firefox OS phones will come. They target developing countries, but would also be good for something like this. So when people buy their ticket, you also sell them this cheap device which you've prepared so that it'll work out of the box. It'll be similar to the way they currently sell 3D glasses at the cinemas.

No, it wouldn't be too hard.

Here's a live demo where we turn a small crowd & their devices into the movie's sound system. http://vimeo.com/71647538

Oops just noticed I linked to turning an audience and their devices into a stereo system.

Here's the movie clip I speak of above http://vimeo.com/m/93899424

This is new(ish) type of technology that requires solid and FAST Internet. It may or may not work in various countries based on Internet speeds (10Mbps or higher is recommended ... Possibly 5Mbps of higher could work too. )

For future versions, maybe you could do local position tracking and use that to make surround sound?

Or better yet, if the audience is on numbered seats, print a QR code on their ticket which gives them an URL that includes their seat number as a parameter.

That's pretty cool. Nice work :)

How do you synchronize so well among so many devices?

Oooooh, how smart. I imagine a soccer/football game, give speakerblast your seat number for timing/placement purposes, rolling vuvuzela/team cheer-wave. Me likey!

this isn't similar at all...

I went to the movies on Friday, the guy in the seat ahead was looking at his (bright) phone ~ 5-10 times during the movie.. it was pretty annoying. I really hope this sort of thing doesn't become the norm to be honest!

Apparently it uses vibration.

"The Timer is our ace in the hole. You start it when the movie begins and it will vibrate before each Peetime"

I've been using it for years, and it's awesome.

The Android app demands permission to access Photos/Media/Files. This app has no reason to read my images, videos, audio, or external storage. :(

Not installing.

You could use XPrivacy[1] and prevent access to anything you wish.

1. http://www.xprivacy.eu/

There is another, less high-tech, approach. Use Depend(TM)underwear or equivalent and simply pee as needed. Simple and non-disruptive to the movie experience of other patrons in the theater. Seems to me that the urge to solve all problems with an App is not a good trend.

That's almost as practical, comfortable, and dignifying as the alternative non-App solution of just peeing in your pants.

I'm probably just giving in to my terroristic anti-consumerism pinko tendencies, but... don't buy a soda?

You'd like a small Coke? Okay, that'll be $4.

Or watch the movie at home like more and more people are doing.

YOU try a controlled peeing after drinking a 40oz soda. I'm pretty sure it will... 'overflow'

Movies in the U. S. used to have intermissions. _2001_ has been mentioned here. More recently, _Tess of the D'Urbervilles_ and _Ghandi_ in the 80s. (All of these from memory, I'm sure there are other examples.) It seems that after that cinemas just didn't do it anymore.

I understand that cinemas want you in and out as quickly as possible. At the same it would seem they can sell more high-margin soft drinks and popcorn if folks are given the opportunity to do so. In fact, there's no way in hell I'm buying anything at all even before the movie starts if I know it's a 3 hour "epic" that won't have an intermission. I'm going into that with a bladder that resembles Death Valley.

Here's a metric for the overall quality of a given film: the relative amount of pee-time.

That's a common comment but actually isn't true. Some great movies have fantastic Peetimes. Take for instance Captain America: Winter Soldier. (Lets not debate how good the movie was. I think it was at the very least a well told story.)

At any rate it has a fantastic Peetime. There's an entire 4+ minute span of Steve and Natasha entering the old Army base where Shield began. There's almost no dialog, it's just them searching as the tension builds. As a story telling device it's an important scene - building the tension. But if you need to take care of some urgent biological needs this makes a perfect time to run and pee. :-)

I think you missed his point. He said "relative" amount of Peetime. Meaning if a 2-hour movie has 1 hour of Peetime, you may want to pass on that movie altogether.

Not necessarily - the non-pee-time bits might be barely non-peeable, or absolute 'do not pee, even if you're about to wet yourself' moments :-)

Jack Warner got there first, basically: http://articles.latimes.com/1990-06-10/entertainment/ca-378_...

I hope that a few movie directors see this app and will make it their next challenge to not allow any convenient pee break.

I guess "Crank" comes quite close.

I don't think that's the case at all. Most good stories ebb and flow. It's important to give the viewer a chance to relax and build up tension before another exciting scene. But you're right, "Crank" is one of those movies that puts the peddle to the metal and doesn't let off. There is of course merit to that type of story telling as well.

Ebb and flow doesn't necessarily mean dead time. Gravity had plenty of changes in pace, yet I don't think it had a single pee break in it.

Well even in the screenshots it says you can go pee in the first few minutes of X-Men because it is "just silent exposition".

Now I haven't seen the movie, but that doesn't sound unimportant...

Sofia Coppola, on the other hand, makes entire movies that you can spend in the toilet

I usually make sure I've emptied myself out before the movie starts, then return to the "loo" sometime after the movie has completed. If the director left a scene in a movie, at least one person thought it was important enough to be watched ... after screening a film, I sometimes think the whole movie was a pee-time.

I usually try to go during a scene I've seen online (for example, XMen:DoFP had the airplane scene that was available online well before the movie came out)

Decent idea but don't cinemas normally frown on people using phones during a film?

I hate seeing the bright phone screen in the middle of watching a film. [I have no idea if cinemas have a formal policy on that, though]

That said, the app had a "low key" design so it doesn't shine bright in the theater. ( Theoretically anyway).

When the movie starts you start the timer, and put the phone in your pocket. The the phone vibrates when a pee-time comes up. You don't have to take out your phone [until you're in the bathroom and want to read about what you're missing].

I've put a lot of thought into that. If you take a look at the app - it's free for now - you can see that it's easy to use without bothering others in the theater. The Timer feature is the most obvious method of using the app unobtrusively, but there are also other ways, like simply memorizing the time/cue for the Peetime of choice and looking for it during a film. We try our best to make the "cues" as memorable as possible.

That being said, there's nothing I can do to prevent, how to put this, less than considerate people from abusing the app.

I work for a relatively major cinema chain and we're experimenting without outright phone bans in a few of our trendier cinema sites. Seems to be going well so far, people respond well to it in general. Hopefully we can push it out to more sites.

When they're talking on them...

Nope, I've definitely been told to put phones away in movie theaters. People consider the bright screens, even at full dimness, a distraction.

There should be a category for this kind of project (and a lot of others): "too much work for too little benefit".

I really think there are more important things to do with all this technology.

>> I really think there are more important things to do with all this technology.

Then get crackin' buddy ;)

I made a mock integration of this for a coding challenge in NYC last week and won a free Android Wear watch: https://plus.google.com/103860840652017295649/posts/5qQ2djiV...

They should implement something similar, given the watch concept is significantly less intrusive and… bright.

Believe me, this is something I've been thinking about. Hopefully by year's end I'll have some integration like this. Not that it takes that long to develop, but I have a lot of other things on my plate right now.

Also, integration with Google Glasses. #WIN

Sounds like a good idea on the surface of it, but I think most Google Glass owners would probably take it off during a movie in the cinema. It would probably feel slightly distracting with such a big screen in front of you. Glass does sit a bit above your right eye, but not to the extent that it's completely unnoticeable.

FTFY: Google Glass

I'd love to see an app the combines Popcorn time with this. Instead of just reading about the missed parts, it'll stream the relevant part on your phone. Obviously it would have to be legal, therefore with some kind of partnership with the studios, and should recognize the scene you left the movie.

That is, if you're ok with using a phone while peeing.

ew! Why do so many ppl use their phone while on the toilet!

Are those celeb reviews for real? Excellent app :D

I highly doubt that Stephen Fry would miss-spell "Lets".

Perhaps Steven Fry would not. But his mobile device's autocorrect certainly could.

Why not just stream the scene to you on your phone while you're in the bathroom?

This leads to what strikes me as a potentially negative heuristic for determining what moments in a given film have worth. Summer flick drivel aside, would RunPee assign a high pee time to, say, Drive, which has a significant amount of mood-setting long shots without any dialogue or plot-relevant action?

Excuse me for probably taking this too far, but this app seems to imply that films are merely the sum of plot-related scenes, and that doesn't sit quite well with me. Would the app consider every establishing shot in Alien to be pee-able?

If this app were ever to be wildly successful, enough people would try to leave the theater at the same time that cinema operators would either lock the toilets or start having intermissions.

It's not their problem. Possibly people would just not leave if too many left already since with waiting in the queue they could not make it back on time.

Btw, I think we had startups like this already. Is it the same one with some more sexy domain or something different?

This is what smartphones were made for.

I guess we're at the point where each of us carry around sufficient technology to give us subtitles on demand, useful if we missed a few lines of dialogue.

(We're probably not socially or legally cool with that, though.)

Ooh, a more experimental place like the Alamo Drafthouse might be able to pull off restrooms attached to each individual theater, simulcasting the show onto screens in there. Licensing for extra screens, even tiny ones, might be complicated though...

Here's to home viewing I guess.

I use this app on Android. It's awesome. My only criticism is it's ad-supported. I would gladly pay lots of money for am ad-free version of this app.

How easy is it for devs to release two versions of an app on the various app places?

One is free but ad supported; the other has a single upfront cost and no ads.

I've seen it done three ways on Android:

* A link in the app to an "Unlocker" which is detected by the main app and removes the ads

* An IAP that removes the ads

* A pro vs free version of the app.

I can't answer your question directly but I know that the IAP is a few lines of code in Google's billing APIs.

There's plenty of apps that work that way.


I pee right before a movie starts. I try my best not to have any soda during the movie for this very reason. Still, sometimes, I have to go. You realize that bladders get naturally weaker for some individuals as they age right?

The app vibrates.

I have to ask: why is this an app and not a web site?

Because it vibrates during the best times to run and pee. That way you never have to look at your bright phone in a dark theater. At the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas looking at your phone even once can get you removed from the theater if you're noticed.

I remember hearing Jordan Palmer (Carson Palmer's little brother) talk about this on Hard Knocks a few years ago.

Exactly. It's not new. I'm a little curious why this has resurfaced now.

Great idea, but how do they find the good times - simply by watching all movies? That might get old pretty fast.

A friend of mine knows the guy and both he and his wife do attend all the movies. His Twitter handle is @PolyGeek.

I know people who won't go to a movie on opening weekend because it isn't on runpee.com yet. If Hollywood was smart they'd give them advance screening privileges.

I know the guy behind this fairly well. I think the movie watching is split up between 2-3 people (Creator, his sister, and someone else). I believe they also have a movie critic on board to get the pee-times early for expected blockbusters.

For many years he has had very busy Thursday/Fridays.

That's what it seems like - In the 3-4 years I've used them (usually to see whether there's a scene after the credits, which last time I looked was a paid feature but may now be free again) they've seemed to stay pretty good at it.

This is a great idea but I don't think it's unique. I remember a similar app that was on the iPhone when those apps first came out. I remember looking at it but it had a cost to download it so I never did use it. I just can't remember what it was called.

Opportunity for integration with Arduino-Based Bathroom Occupancy Detector:


I've been using RunPee for a long time, and it's been fantastic. Yes, they broke it a couple of times, but whatever, seems fine now. If I have to get a new phone, the essentials I need are text, email, maps, and RunPee.

Great use for RunPee: finding out if any movie has extra scenes after the credits.

This. I've been using it for a couple of years (old version, no timer) and it has saved me so many times from being frustrated later that I missed a scene in the credits.

Last I used it, they pushed an update that completely broke the app, because the performance was so bad. I loved it before, but the ratings suggest it's still bricked, so let someone buy the app, before you do.

What? No one told me. Sometimes things get crossed up during updates. Happens to all apps, iOS and Android. Uninstall and reinstall fixes it 99% of the time.

I envision an app called "Monkey Pissing" that enables users to reserve their spot at the urinal during specific times. "Get paid $13 an hour just to piss!"

At some point these folks: http://www.oneonthego.com/ will sense a marketing opportunity.

But if this app ever becomes really popular it will render itself useless because there will be huge lines in the bathrooms.

I can't make it through a movie without peeing at least once, if not twice. The app works well.

Very happy to hear it. I'd love to hear exactly how you use the app and if there's anything you think I can do to improve the experience. It's certainly a tricky situation: making an app usable during a movie without bothering the other people around you. Email me: Dan@RunPee.com if you have any feedback.

Would this tell where the bathrooms are located and how long will it take you to get there and back? May be that will help to decide to leave or not. Imaginne getting notifications from the bathroom that you have a stall available to Run and Pee :D

Silicon Valley, saving the world, one app at a time ...

I had to laugh

That is great idea.

innovation, at the vanguard

For guys, if you use this app too often you might want to have your prostate checked out. I used to leave in the middle of a movie but post-op cancer surgery I luckily don't need this app anymore. I was in my early 40s when I was diagnosed so it's not just old geezers who should be aware. Luckily most cases are benign, though.

Frequent urination is also an indicator for type II diabetes, get your sugar checked.

I have CFRD (Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes) and even if I make it through an entire movie, I'm usually just toughing it out, really not enjoying the movie.

Is it safe to assume that since I have always peed a lot, I am OK?

At university (nearly 20 years ago) I had a friend who was the same (or worse) than me. He was a bit of a hypochondriac, went to the doc, got tested for diabetes, and a number of other things. They shoved an endoscope up his parts (most painful thing ever, he said) and told him he had a weak bladder, deal with it. Since hearing that story, I have basically ignored the problem.

LOL > "You have a weak bladder, deal with it." I guess that's better than hearing the alternative. :-)

After 20 years, maybe get a second opinion from modern medicine.

I think he and myself are both in decent health.

Thanks for the PSA about PSA (public service announcement / prostate-specific antigen).

Either that, or your just not eating enough bread. Of course.. if you're trying to lose weight, peeing a lot is good. Just sayin...

I laughed when I saw the points on this. That's funny. XD

yes, please use your bright-ass smart phone in the middle of the movie theater. distract every person behind you while you figure out when would be the most convenient time for you to pee.

(this is why i don't go to movies anymore.)

The idea seems to be that you open it when you go in. The app has settings to vibrate during the times when you are safe to leave, so you aren't taking your phone out to check, it's a push notification to you that you can go.

yes, please dont read the features of the app and instead make a snarky reply full of assumptions that are actually incorrect.

(this is why i dont go into the comments section anymore.)

Please don't reply to snark with more snark.

I'd rather have an app that screens all the other moviegoers so that I can arrange to sit in an area where I'm not surrounded by people who have some kind of Pavlovian response that 'movie' = 'feed my face with crunchy popcorn, slurpy drinks and sweets from a noisy plastic bag'.

People: You will not die if you go without carbs for a couple of hours.

For many, including me, going to a cinema is to treat ourselves and have a good time. If all I wanted was to watch a movie, I could've done that at home.

You have a 30ft screen and dts surround sound at home? Wow!

What a weak attempt at an argument. Of course I don't have, what is your point?

Well, like you, I go to the cinema because it has the facilities I can't afford to have at home - but while I sit there quietly, trying to enjoy a movie and not disturb anyone, all I can often hear is the noise of people around me eating, spilling popcorn, passing trays of food between family members and friends, or rummaging in packaging to fish out more food.

Seriously, this isn't worth developing into a long thread, and it's not personal, but it's not my idea of a "treat" to sit passively for an hour or so while ingesting over a thousand calories or pure carbs* - that's a diabetic and heart-crushing, self-harming time bomb.

*WebMD: "To save you money (how thoughtful), theaters offer combos. For example, for a mere $12 Regal hands you a medium popcorn and a medium soft drink, and AMC dishes up a large popcorn and a large soda," write CSPI researchers in their report published in the Nutrition Action Healthletter. "Where else can you be so distracted (by the movie) that you don't realize you've just swallowed 1,400 to 1,600 calories?"

I don't think you need an app to screen moviegoers for that, you need an app (or, really, a website) to rate theaters for that...Type and level of distracting behavior (whether its food related or conversation related) is a cultural preference, and different theaters serve different client bases with different dominant cultural preferences. This is in part an effect of geography, and in part self-selection through experience, but making it easier to share experience would make it easier for people to align their theater choices with their cultural preferences.

It is a really interesting idea dragonwriter, but it'd be rather impractical. most theaters within the driving distance you'd typically consider cater to basically the same kind of audience - so the culture would be the same. I'm sure there's some theater in South Dakota where they behave exactly like I want, but... I'm not going there to see movie!

In really urban areas, different theaters do attract distinctive clienteles. However, out in the 'burbs where most people live (and definitely in South Dakota), it's true that theaters basically just catch everyone nearby.

> In really urban areas, different theaters do attract distinctive clienteles. However, out in the 'burbs where most people live (and definitely in South Dakota), it's true that theaters basically just catch everyone nearby.

The experience I drew the principle from was experience in the suburbs; its true that theaters are more widely spaced there, but since people have to use cars to get anywhere anyway (which is less true in the city), the radius of consideration tends to be much larger, too. It evens out.

Rural areas are a different issue, to be sure.

Popcorn or other food makes films more enjoyable.

There are theaters that don't have plastic bags, though. The best ones are all 21-and-over, in the US, which cuts down on the noise and crowding considerably. I like CinéBistro, for example.

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