Legendary Entertainment chairman and CEO Thomas Tull knows that virtual reality is the next big thing—he was an early investor in Oculus VR before Facebook acquired it for $2 billion last year.
So it’s no surprise that Tull’s company, Legendary—behind movies like The Dark Knight Rises, Godzilla, and Pacific Rim—has embraced VR. Consumers can currently download free VR experiences for Google Cardboard based on Legendary films Pacific Rim, Crimson Peak, and Warcraft.
“What gets me excited about VR isn’t so much playing video games or watching movies in a virtual environment; it’s a completely different way to experience things from storytellers and it delivers on a wish fulfillment experience whether that’s piloting a Jaeger from Pacific Rim or flying a Gryphon over Azeroth,” Tull says.
Legendary has set up a lab where VR and other new technologies are featured, so that directors and other Hollywood creatives can explore these new formats. Tull says in these early days of VR, Legendary is exploring opportunities across all of its divisions—film, television, digital, and comics.
“Our technical teams try to see how can we use VR, and what’s the duration and format that makes the most sense,” Tull says. “There’s no roadmap for VR. Everybody is just learning on the fly. But it’s certainly something that we’ve invested in.”
Legendary’s monster movies like the upcoming Godzilla 2 are being considered for VR projects because of the striking visuals already present in those films.
“Godzilla makes these amazing entrances, whether he’s coming over a mountain or up out of the water, and we’ve been thinking about what it would be like to have somebody standing down on the dock when Godzilla comes up out of the bay,” Tull says. “So that’s the kind of cutting-edge, sophisticated concepts you get out of us in the back room. We just do stuff that we think would be cool in VR, and hopefully our fans agree.”
Hollywood studios like Roddenberry Entertainment are starting to explore 360-degree storytelling that can be viewed with VR headsets. But that’s an art form that will take some time, and experimentation, to develop.
“I’m the least excited about simply shooting a movie in that format and having moments where it feels artificially enhanced, like open the door on your left,” Tull says “When you can use it to tell stories in a way that you couldn’t do in any other format, that’s interesting. When you put these cameras and new mediums in the hands of incredibly gifted creators, that’s when things start to happen. And they happen rather quickly once the language gets set. And that’s what we’re going to see over the next couple of years.”
Legendary will continue to invest in these new forms of storytelling, while working with filmmakers on how to best use them to deliver new experiences for fans.
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