×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

AMC Strikes $20 Million Pact With Dreamscape Immersive for 6 VR Centers, Content Production

AMC Entertainment has invested $10 million into Los Angeles-based location-based virtual reality (VR) startup Dreamscape Immersive, and committed another $10 million to finance VR content productions with the startup. As part of the partnership, Dreamscape and AMC are also going to open six VR centers in North America and the U.K. together.

“AMC has a long history of innovation in the theatrical space,” said AMC Theaters EVP John McDonald in an interview with Variety, during which he also stressed that the traditional theater space and VR have a lot in common. “The business of theaters and the business of VR come both back to content,” he said.

Dreamscape CEO Bruce Vaughn said that his company was “incredibly happy” to have a partner like AMC on board, giving it a chance to kickstart location-based VR at malls and theaters. “It’s where most people will first experience this medium,” he said.

Having served nine years as the chief creative executive of Disney Imagineering, Vaughn is intimately familiar with the challenges and opportunities of location-based entertainment. But he isn’t the only high-profile entertainment executive at the help of Dreamscape. Co-chairman Kevin Wall has been producing high-profile music events like Live 8 for decades, fellow co-chairman Walter Parkes was the co-founder and longterm president of DreamWorks Entertainment and COO Aaron Grosky was the longterm president of Control Room entertainment.

Like The Void and location-based VR startups, Dreamscape is also betting on completely untethered VR experiences. This means that participants will be wearing VR headsets powered by a computer carried around in a custom backpack, which allows them to walk through a stage that combines real physical cues with virtual worlds.

One of the features that sets Dreamscape apart from the competition is that it uses extra trackers that are strapped to the  hand and feet, allowing the system to approximate body movements and reproduce accurate representations of other participants in virtual multiplayer spaces.

In a demo shown to industry insiders and press, the company uses this to let participants toss objects back and forth — all without taking off their headsets to look at the “real thing.” “We thought it was very compelling,” said McDonald.

Dreamscape is now looking to open a first, previously-announced VR multiplex in Los Angeles in the first quarter of 2018. The six AMC-helmed locations will follow later next year. At the point of launch, the company also plans to have multiple VR experiences available to visitors, with plans to frequently swap out content to make it work for multiple audiences. “A VR multiplex is about having a breadth of choice,” said Vaughn.

That’s one of the reasons Dreamscape and AMC are also partnering on content production. “Content will be key,” said MacDonald. “We want to seed that market.”

Parkes added that Dreamscape also plans to adapt existing experiences that were previously released to the home VR market, and adapt them to make them work with multiple participants and on bigger stages — something he likened to “late-night programming” on traditional television.

With centers like the ones opened with AMC’s help, Dreamscape hopes to fill a void as malls are battling declining attendance due to the growth of e-commerce. “There are a lot of real estate opportunities,” Parkes said. “Malls will increasingly be entertainment centers.”

For its part, AMC still sees partnerships like these as a kind of trial run. “We are optimistic about the potential for VR,” McDonald said, but also acknowledged that the company isn’t ready for a big strategic bet just yet. “We’ll see where it goes.”

The DreamScape deal isn’t AMC’s first foray into VR. The company already has an existing relationship with IMAX, with which it launched an IMAX VR center in New York this summer. McDonald described the initial results of that cooperation as “very strong,” and said that it may also help launch additional IMAX VR sites down the road.

AMC’s investment in Dreamscape is part of a $20 million Series B round of funding, which is being led by the entertainment company and is bringing the total valuation of the VR startup to $150 million. Other participants in the round weren’t disclosed, but previous investors in the company included Warner Brothers, Fox, MGM, IMAX, Westfield Malls, Steven Spielberg and Bold Capital.

 

 

 

 

 

More Digital

  • 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 [...]

  • Skyline of Doha at night with

    Qatar's beIN Rallies Support From U.S. Companies Against Pirate Broadcaster beoutQ

    Qatari powerhouse beIN Media Group has rallied support from American sports and entertainment entities, including Discovery and Fox, behind its request that the U.S. government place Saudi Arabia on its watch list of top intellectual property offenders. The Doha-based broadcaster, a state-owned spinoff of Al Jazeera news network, accuses the Saudi government of harboring pirate broadcaster [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content