You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox Innovation Lab Releases ‘The Martian VR Experience,’ Execs Promise Much More to Come

Hollywood just got serious about virtual reality: 20th Century Fox’s Fox Innovation Lab released “The Martian VR Experience” from executive producer Ridley Scott and director Robert Stromberg for HTC Vive and PlayStation VR Monday.

The Martian VR Experience” allows viewers to step into the world of “The “Martian” from the perspective of  astronaut Mark Watney, who was played by Matt Damon in the original movie. Stuck on Mars as Watney, viewers have to navigate machinery in the midst of a sand storm, drive a Mars rover, deal with highly explosive plutonium and more.

Fox Innovation Lab first previewed “The Martian VR Experience” at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. However, Fox Searchlight Pictures Co-Head of Production David Greenbaum told Variety that the demo shown to press and industry insiders in Las Vegas was really just a first cut. “There have been a lot of technical and narrative improvements,” he said.

“The Martian VR Experience” costs consumers $19.99, and it marks the first time for the studio to release a commercial title for the new medium. But 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Fox Innovation Lab President Mike Dunn told Variety that it isn’t meant to be a one-off. “This is our first swing at the plate,” he said. “Our intention from the moment we developed our business plan was to be in the commercial VR business.”

That’s notably different from the way many others in the entertainment industry have approached VR. Especially on the TV side, many studios have thus far only dipped their toes in the water with short 360-degree videos meant to promote existing TV shows.

20th Century Fox President of Post Production Ted Gagliano acknowledged that 360-degree video can be a gateway to VR, but also argued that it wasn’t enough to just do promotional clips: “That is selling virtual reality short.” This was echoed by Dunn: “We see VR as a new media opportunity, not just a promotional vehicle.”

But Dunn, Greenbaum and Gagliano also described their work on “The Martian VR Experience” as a learning experience that continues even after the release. VR remains uncharted territory, and the Fox Innovation Lab has been doubling as a kind of company-wide R&D lab. “We remain totally humble students to the technology,” said Greenbaum. “No one is an expert.” Added Gagliano: “We started as evangelists, now we are explorers.”

The trio didn’t want to reveal what’s next for Fox in VR, but they said that they look at each studio project to figure out what might work. And Dunn promised that there is going to be a lot more to come. “We have a slate against our tentpole films going forward and we are going to work with global partners to bring them to market,” he said. “It is going to be an exciting year.”

More Digital

  • Amazon Prime

    Amazon Prime India Greenlights ‘Bandits’ Music Series

    Amazon Prime Video India has greenlit original series “Bandish Bandits.” The show is a musical created by Still and Still Media Collective. The series will follow an Indian classical musician bound by tradition and a pop star whose performance skills are greater than her talent. A bandish is a term used to describe a musical [...]

  • Alibaba Buys 8% Stake in Chinese

    Alibaba Buys 8% Stake in Chinese Video Platform Bilibili

    Alibaba has purchased an 8% stake in the Chinese online video platform Bilibili, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Bilibili is one of China’s top video streaming and entertainment platforms, with about 92 million monthly active users and 450 million page-views per day. Founded in 2009, it was listed on the NASDAQ last March. Alibaba’s [...]

  • Clevver-Logo

    Hearst Magazines Buys Clevver's Pop-Culture YouTube Channels After Defy's Demise

    Hearst Magazines has snapped up Clevver, a network of female-skewing lifestyle and pop-culture news YouTube channels that had been owned by now-defunct Defy Media. Clevver was left homeless after Defy’s sudden shutdown in November; its principals said at the time they were looking for a new home. Hearst Magazines sees a digital fit with Clevver’s [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Rhett-Link-Good-Mythical-Morning

    Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment in Talks to Acquire Smosh (EXCLUSIVE)

    Smosh, the YouTube comedy brand left stranded after parent company Defy Media went belly-up, may be about to get a new business partner. Mythical Entertainment, the entertainment company founded by top YouTube comedy duo Rhett & Link, has been in talks about acquiring the Smosh brand, sources told Variety. Multiple potential buyers came forward to [...]

  • Pokemon Go

    Proposed 'Pokémon Go' Lawsuit Settlement May Remove Poké Stops, Gyms

    A proposed settlement in the class action lawsuit against “Pokémon Go” developer Niantic could remove or change a number of Poké Stops and Gyms in the popular augmented reality game. The proposed settlement was filed in a California court on Thursday and applies to anyone in the U.S. who owns or leases property within 100 meters [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content