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Warner Bros. Chief Digital Officer: VR and AR Have Huge Potential

Slower-than-expected sales of virtual reality headsets haven’t discouraged Warner Bros. Chief Digital Officer Thomas Gewecke. During a fireside chat at the VRTL Summit in Los Angeles Wednesday, Gewecke argued that those numbers don’t change the trajectory of the medium.

“We think VR and AR represent an enormous opportunity,” Gewecke said. “The potential is huge.” But he also cautioned the industry to be patient. “We’ve learned that we are in the really early days.”

Gewecke said that Warner Bros. is still at a stage of early testing. One of the lessons learned from those tests was to not build experiences for single platforms, he said. Warner Bros. did release “Batman: Arkham VR” on the PlayStation VR first when that device launched last fall, but brought the same title to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive this week.

The studio has also been experimenting with a variety of monetization models for VR. This can involve sponsors, or direct-to-consumer sales — something that Warner Bros. has been doing with “Batman: Arkham VR.” “we are really happy with how it did,” Gewecke said.

Warner Bros. announced a partnership with Imax last month to co-finance three VR experiences for movies including “Justice League” and “Aquaman.” Gewecke said that the full release plans for these titles hadn’t been released, but hinted at the possibility to bring them both to Imax VR centers as well as to consumers who have purchased their own VR headsets.

The studio also recently partnered with HTC to build VR experiences for the upcoming movie adaptation of the Sci-Fi thriller “Ready Player One.” “It’s an incredible story, incredible book,” Geweke said Wednesday, arguing that it could give VR a big boost as well. “It will be a really great vehicle for raising awareness about the whole category.”

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