The first permanent virtual reality movie theater is now open for business.
It’s no surprise that virtual reality is becoming more and more popular as an entertainment medium. Consumers are always looking for new types of experiences that they can share with friends and companies are hoping that VR may be the answer.
Six Flags just announced that they would be adding Gear VR headsets to select rides starting this week, which should attract a long line of curious attendees seeking an entirely new type of roller coaster thrill ride. Other companies are planning just as big, if not bigger VR entertainment attractions as well. The Void has partnered up with Shanghai, China-based Shanda Group to introduce a VR theme park at an undisclosed location in China and this year we will see a VR arcade right here in Los Angeles from the folks over at Starbreeze.
And to add to that list of VR attractions, a company based in the Netherlands has just opened what they are touting is the first permanent virtual reality movie theater, dubbed VR Cinema.
VR movie theaters are a finally a thing now.
VR Cinema just opened their doors for business last week at a permanent location in Amsterdam as a follow-up to their successful pop-up VR cinema tour of Europe last year. The location is open from Wednesday through Sunday and tickets for VR Cinema will run you €12.50 (around $13.70) each. With showings running on the hour, the location can entertain around 400 attendees each day.
To clarify, the VR movies are not the same you would see at your local movie theater. VR Cinema showings let viewers watch a package of VR films, all roughly starting at the same time for everyone. Around 35-minutes of VR content is shown in a sitting, showcasing a variety of different types of film experiences. It somewhat reminds us of the touring Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival, but VR Cinema is a set showing of films instead of attendees being able to choose what content they want to watch.
VR Cinema hopes to keep attracting attendees back by refreshing the films regularly and will be borrowing from traditional movies the idea of film premieres. On March 10th, they will premiere a new VR film titled “In Your Face” to an already sold-out night of showings.
So what makes a VR Cinema different from a traditional movie theater? Well for starters, you are not sitting in a dark theater all lined up facing forward towards a screen. This VR movie theater is packed with swivel chairs, so you have free reign to rotate in 360°, as well as a Samsung Gear VR headset and a pair of headphones waiting for you at your seat.
Although you could easily say that this type of VR experience can be had with a bunch of your friends on Gear VR headsets anywhere, VR Cinema comes at a time when the growing consumer interest and lack of access to VR makes this an accessible and unique experience option for many.
As it stands right now, all viewers are watching the same VR movies but not necessarily at the exact same time. We really think that the next evolution for VR Cinema is the deployment of synced headset experiences, creating a more shared type of viewing, especially when everyone watching laughs or gasps in fear simultaneously in the theater. Synced social experiences like this in VR can bring showings closer to the more shared social experiences of traditional movie theaters but add a layer of immersion that should be fun for everyone.
The company states that additional permanent VR Cinema locations are planned for later this year in Berlin, London, Barcelona, and Paris.
Image Credit: VR Cinema