Going to the movies to stare at a giant 20-foot tall screen is so last year (and last century). The new movie theater experience is not going to involve a silver screen at all – but virtual reality headsets instead.
Virtual reality headsets like Oculus Rift have taken off with gamers and even uh, adult movie enthusiasts in recent years, but it’s mostly been limited to a solo experience. That has been forever changed though, now that the Netherlands has introduced the first permanent virtual reality movie theater, appropriately named the VR Cinema.
The movie theater first teased audiences last summer on a short tour through Europe, but has now found a permanent home in Amsterdam. If it proves successful, which is likely on sheer curiosity alone, more VR Cinemas are planned to roll out in London and Paris in the coming months.
What exactly would going to the movie theater for a virtual reality screening be like, though? Well for one thing, you’ll be wearing a black headset over your eyes instead of starring at movie stars up on a giant screen. And instead of sitting in rows of chairs stained with decades of soda, patrons will be seated in swivel chairs for an optimal 360-degree experience.
While your traditional Hollywood blockbusters haven’t yet been formatted for a virtual reality experience, the audience will pay around €12,50 (about $14) for a ticket to a 35-minute VR film. Open Wednesday through Sunday, the space will be able to accommodate around 400 visitors a day, with the experience aimed more at the entertainment value of the technology than a social setting centered around the movie itself.
The VR experience has gained the attention of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who is investing around $500 million in the technology.
“VR is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience anything they want,” Zuckerberg said during a speech at MWC. “Right now, it is mostly used for gaming. But that’s evolving, and that’s why Facebook is investing so much in VR, so we can deliver these new social experiences. VR is going to be the next social platform.”
While going to a movie theater only to be entertained through a goofy looking headset might seem odd or downright silly, nobody imagined the impact motion pictures would have at the beginning of the 19th century either.
And if VR movies aren’t your thing, maybe you’ll be interested in a VR roller coaster. Yep, Samsung (the makers of the VR Cinema headset) are in talks with Six Flags about rolling out virtual reality amusement park rides at nine different amusement parks over the next several years. Of course, if you prefer to get nauseous from the real thing, that’ll still be an option too.