With Comic-Con in full swing this week, the amount of panels, previews, games, and brand activations to check out seem endless. But this year, there was one movie experience we weren’t going to miss.
Only a block away from the main convention center, lines wrapped around the block, all waiting to enter a massive tent. It was hard to miss. One big bold sign summed it all up, this was home to the “Blade Runner 2049 Experience.”
A mix of high flying VR action and a perfectly crafted set of committed actors, this experience went beyond just a VR headset demo and transported you into the cyberpunk future of the dystopian world that is Blade Runner.
After walking down a long hallway with a group of 23 other hyped attendees, I found myself staring at rows of D-Box motion chairs. They look like movie theater seats, but when paired with a VR headset, they rumble and move with the movement of the experience.
We take our seats and put on a Gear VR headset with headphones. Now i’m sitting in the driver’s seat of a Blade Runner Spinner. As I wait for the rest of the attendees to begin, I immediately recognize the near-future neon-lit city, iconic of the film.
Then we’re off, or in this case up. The chair rumbles and angles, wind begins to rush towards my face, and the flying vessel lifts off through the city. The entire ride is a thing of beauty—a cityscape glide past giant billboards and holographic ads.
And just like most VR experiences that start off easy to get you acclimated, things escalate quickly from there. I identify another Spinner with a replicant pilot that must be hunted down. The pursuit turns into a roller coaster ride of bumps, turns, gun fire, and finally ends with a forceful crash onto a Los Angeles street below.
And where the VR experience ends, the next begins. As you take your headset off, you’re confronted with a new reality that manifested while you were in preoccupied with the virtual. The wall that was in front of us earlier is now gone. Appearing in front of us, a downed Spinner with a cast of 34 actors donning actual costumes from the film scatter throughout the set.
Many cast members were having full on conversations with each other, some rocking umbrellas as leaking water fell from the sky. There was a noodle shop called the White Dragon that gathered quite a few interesting characters.
But what better way to end the night after surviving a crash landing and waking up wandering the polluted streets filled with weirdos then at Bibi’s Bar. Asked to present my historic ID from 2017 to enter, you could help yourself to some serious shots of Johnnie Walker (who just happened to be the sponsor of the experience). At least we know that in the future, we’ll still have whiskey to get through our day.
The Blade Runner 2049 VR experience was made in collaboration with Oculus and Turtle Rock, taking a production team of 40 people over seven days on-site to bring the world of Los Angeles in 2049 to life. The experience features over fifty props from the film, including the actual Spinner from Blade Runner 2049.
Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters October 6, 2017 in 2D and 3D in select theaters and IMAX.