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Abba Launches Virtual-Reality Venture With Simon Fuller, Universal Music

VR fever has infected Sweden’s biggest musical export: Pop group Abba will recycle decades-old hits like “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia” for the 21st-century digital medium of virtual reality.

The foursome hasn’t performed together publicly for 30 years, but Abba sees the potential to make money from their global fanbase with an immersive VR entertainment experience. The group is teaming with Simon Fuller, best known as creator of the “American Idol,” and Universal Music Group to form a new venture to develop VR and other new digital projects.

Details of Abba’s VR plans are scant; the parties said more will be revealed in 2017. The members of the group — Benny Andersson, Frida Lyngstad, Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus — will be involved throughout the creative process.

“We are exploring a new technological world, with virtual reality and artificial intelligence at the forefront, that will allow us to create new forms of entertainment and content we couldn’t have previously imagined,” said Fuller, founder and CEO of XIX Entertainment. The entrepreneur says he’s been investing in VR technologies and developing “hyper-realistic digital humans” over the last few years.

Andersson, in a prepared statement, said: “We’re inspired by the limitless possibilities of what the future holds and are loving being a part of creating something new and dramatic here. A time machine that captures the essence of who we were. And are.” Added Lyngstad: “Our fans around the world are always asking us to re-form and so I hope this new Abba creation will excite them as much as it excites me!”

Formed in Stockholm in 1972, Abba had sold 375 million albums worldwide by 2010, according to UMG. Much of their success came after they disbanded in 1982.

The group’s undeniably infectious tunes formed the basis for the smash musical “Mamma Mia!,” which ran on Broadway for 14 years before closing last year. The 2008 movie starring Meryl Streep stands as the most successful live-action movie adapted from a musical to date. In 2010, Abba was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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