2017 hasn’t been a good year for the movie theater industry. Box office revenues are down and audiences aren’t showing up, not like they used to anyway. Theater owners and chains haven’t exactly thrown in the towel, however. There have been many changes to the overall theater experience in recent years: digital projection, stadium seating, dinner/wine/beer served at your seat, THX audio, and motion seats — experiences vary by locale, naturally.
Sadly, these innovations haven’t exactly turned the industry around thus far. So, can anything save movie theaters? Most people will tell you that the thing keeping them away is the quality of the films themselves, but Hollywood loves its gimmicks, and now they’re testing out a new concept, which might not save theaters but might give consumers a new way to experience them.
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According to Deadline, Paramount Pictures is collaborating with Bigscreen — a virtual reality (VR) service — while partnering with several high-tech companies, including Oculus, Samsung, HTC, and Microsoft to launch a first-of-its-kind virtual reality movie theater.
No, you won’t be dragging your expensive VR goggles down to your local theater, but you will be able to sit on your couch and watch a movie on the big-screen as though you were in a physical movie house. It’s not the craziest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty out there. High fives to Paramount for thinking outside of the box, right?
So, how does it work? On December 3, any consumer with a VR headset (all VR brands are included) can sign into bigscreenvr.com and watch Paramount’s Top Gun 3D. As part of the experience, you’ll actually walk into the theater, see movie posters, find a seat, and watch trailers before the main showing begins — apparently, participants can even chat with other theater patrons before the feature.
The experience is free, and showtimes begin every 30 minutes. Paramount is planning a series of additional films in 2018. Though this is only an experiment for Paramount, it’s a great way to engage with tech-savvy VR consumers. One presumes this will help sell more headsets too.
It’s not evident how (or if) this can help individual theaters or chains, but you can imagine where it might lead. For example, partnerships between chains like Regal or AMC, third-parties like MoviePass, and the studios themselves to create an entire marketplace while cinephiles can explore cinema at an entirely new level.
This VR simulation of the theater experience is a bit bizarre. There’s also an element of The Matrix to the whole endeavor, too. However, it’s kind of a cool idea and it’s worth following, wherever it may lead.
Would you watch a movie in a 3D virtual theater? Let us know in the comments down below!