Earlier this week, a PR agency enlisted by the L.A.-based startup sent reporters a pitch touting CrimeDoor’s upcoming slate of historical crime reenactments, promising to let users “experience final moments in history” — including including the death of Floyd — “for the first time in-person via augmented reality.”
A CrimeDoor spokesperson contacted by Variety said that was “a very early and unapproved draft” of the company’s announcement about the series on famous murders from history. A feature on the killing of Floyd will not be coming to the app, the rep said.
“While George Floyd was at one point discussed internally as a current moment that would go down in history due to the crime’s nature and societal impact, the CrimeDoor team decided that [the Floyd killing] was too sensitive and the timing did not feel right to feature it,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Variety. “No case profile or AR door has been created around this, and there is no plan to launch this currently.”
Floyd is the Minneapolis man who was killed May 25, 2020, while in police custody — a horrific event that prompted racial-justice protests nationwide. Video shows former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Chauvin’s trial for the murder of Floyd is currently under way in Minnesota.
CrimeDoor’s special historical crimes series launched last week with a 3D recreation of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ — which the company also plans to auction off as a digital non-fungible token (NFT) — and will continue over the next few weeks with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy.
“These are all cases that have been widely covered in the news and the AR has been created from crime-scene photos, where available, and historical text/accounts to insure accuracy with the aim of the AR as an education tool,” the CrimeDoor representative said.
On Tuesday, Washington Post features reporter Maura Judkis tweeted a screen grab of CrimeDoor’s PR pitch — calling it “the most fucked up press release for the worst app I’ve ever heard of.”
Did any other journalists just receive this, the most fucked up press release for the worst app I’ve ever heard of? pic.twitter.com/apELBn3Fvr
— Maura Judkis (@MauraJudkis) April 7, 2021
Launched last fall, CrimeDoor says the app “highlights crimes from the victim’s point of view and through partnerships with notable media authorities” and that its app “provides unique context to crime scenes, with access to authentic news offerings.”
CrimeDoor says its “unique AR experiences” include “well-known tragic deaths” like the murders of John Lennon, Nicole Brown Simpson, JonBénet Ramsey, Pablo Escobar, Selena, Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.
“CrimeDoor’s AR platform allows the True Crime community to put themselves in these moments to experience 3D evidence with chilling reality,” the company said in a recent announcement. In addition, the app’s geolocation technology allows users to see where crimes have occurred and provides directions to the sites.
The CrimeDoor app sells AR recreations — for $1.99 each — of famous deaths including of Jesus, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Gianni Versace, the Black Dahlia and Jeffrey Epstein. Currently, it offers free AR experiences for the murders of John Lennon, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, and JonBénet Ramsey. It also offers unlimited subscription plans for $4.99/month or $49.99/year that provide access to all features.
CrimeDoor was founded in 2020 by Neil Mandt, a movie and TV producer whose Mandt Bros. Productions (formed with his brother Michael) says it has produced more than 3,000 episodes of television shows for Disney, Showtime, Viacom, NBCUniversal and major sports leagues.
At the time of CrimeDoor’s launch, Mandt said in a statement, “We aren’t celebrating killers; we are giving a voice to the victims. Our biggest focus is on unsolved murders and missing persons and by adding cases and content on a daily basis we hope to raise awareness and quite possibly justice for those who can no longer speak for themselves.”