MSCHF Drops Movies Like ‘Barbie’, Fully Remastered In Pixelated Text, For Free
By Mikelle Leow, 31 Jan 2024
Video screenshot via MSCHF
This new venture dives into the nostalgic realm of ASCII art to stream popular films, reimagined in a format that’s as retro as it is revolutionary. Every day, cinephiles and the curious alike can tune in to a text-based cinematic experience, free of charge, that brings a whole new meaning to watching a movie.
ASCII Theater breaks away from traditional streaming by converting movies into ASCII format, where every frame is a dynamic tapestry of colored text characters. The pixelated curtains first rolled with a recreation of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie on January 30, with the chilling Hereditary queued up for the next day.
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As suggested in a promo, other titles lined up include Shrek, 300, The Shining, Pulp Fiction, The Great Gatsby, The Lion King, and Star Wars.
This process of catching a show is reminiscent of a hacker’s hobby from the early internet days. Viewers snag a string of code from the ASCII Theater website, paste it into their computer’s Command Prompt or Terminal, and with a simple press of ‘Enter’, the movie unfolds as a stream of ASCII art. MSCHF notes that it’s akin to tuning into a pirate radio station, with each broadcast rendered in a flurry of letters and symbols.
Screenshot via ASCII Theater
Image via ASCII Theater
The format, dancing on the edge of copyright laws, requires a bit of squinting and adjusting. The detailed scenes are best viewed in a minimized window to make out the film’s scenes from the constantly shifting characters.
Video via ASCII Theater
The old-timey theater is set to release a new movie each day—“until we get shut down,” says MSCHF.
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