Virtual reality start-ups offer a VR experience that's part movie theater, part theme park

“We believe that location-based VR is the tip of the spear as it were for the entire VR industry. It will get people exposed to how unique this medium can be and also those of us who create it, we are learning the capability as well. It’s the first time that the technology has come together, not just the backpacks the headsets and the tracking, but even the physical optics in a way that we can really learn the vocabulary of this new medium,” Dreamscape CEO Bruce Vaughn told CNBC.

Vaughn says the company’s first move is to get venues opened in key locations, but he is already looking at the prospect of stepping into consumers’ homes.

“Being able to network people from the home is something we are very interested in. So you could be at home and be participating in any of the experiences in our VR locations with other people,” says Vaughn. “You can imagine there is a social aspect to that.”

With AMC as one of the company’s biggest backers, Dreamscape is betting that the synergy between Hollywood and virtual reality will help draw moviegoers. The company says some locations will be standalone locations, while others will be incorporated into AMC theaters.

Veteran film producer Walter Parkes, known for franchises such as “Men in Black,” co-founded Dreamscape with the hope that VR will become as popular as going to the movies.

“I think what’s happening in Hollywood right now, is that the studios sense there is something out there. They also sense there are many reasons for people not to go to movies at theaters: the ability to stream at home, how extraordinary the televisions and sound is. So they are very anxious not only to see VR succeed in and of itself, but also create more energy around places like this that sort of support the communal aspect of film going that is really at the essence of what we do in Hollywood,” Parkes told CNBC.

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Dreamscape is part of a larger trend of start-ups building out physical retail VR locations. SPACES, backed by Comcast Ventures, recently opened a new “Terminator Salvation” VR experience at one of Southern California’s largest malls in Irvine. And The Void, which Disney invested in through its incubator program, is expanding to 17 locations this year, featuring a virtual Star Wars experience.

Disclosure: Comcast Ventures is part of Comcast, which is also the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.



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