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TECHNOLOGY TRENDS

Licensing of Entertainment Properties for Virtual Reality Products

Hollywood is getting into virtual reality. VR was all the rage at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where festival goers reportedly waited in line for hours to experience the VR flight simulator “Birdly.” And this was just one of almost a dozen VR displays at Sundance, most of which used the pricey and cutting edge Oculus Rift “head-mounted display” to create their experiences.

Technology Enables VR to Go Mainstream

Thanks to devices like the Samsung Gear VR headset, which works with the brand’s Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, and Google’s Cardboard, which allows users to turn their smartphone into a virtual reality viewer for under $10, VR experiences are poised to go mainstream in the form of live events or app-based exten- sions of major theatrical films and potentially, a new licensed product category.

For example, Lionsgate has teamed with Samsung to create “Insurgent—Shatter Reality” as an extension of the studios upcoming feature film, “The Divergent Series: Insurgent,” which opens March 20. The four-minute experience puts viewers in a 360-degree narrative of a film story line in which they are subjected to a series of mental “stimulations” including standing atop a crumbling skyscraper and facing a fast-approaching train, in order to determine the extent of their “divergence.” Actress Kate Winslet and other cast members appear in the experience.

Beginning Feb. 27, “Insurgent—Shatter Reality” toured venues in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin and San Francisco and was available exclusively on Samsung’s Milk VR service, prior to becoming available as an app on all platforms. Fans outside the tour markets could view the experience on Samsung Gear VR March 7-8 at select Best Buy stores across the U.S.

Earlier, 20th Century Fox showed “Wild—The Experience,” at Sundance and at International CES in January. While believed to be the first VR experience created with top Hollywood talent, “Wild—The Experience” has not been distributed to consumer markets.

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