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Bigscreen Partners With Paramount for Ticketed VR Movie Screenings

San Francisco-based virtual reality startup Bigscreen has teamed up with Paramount Pictures to bring the theater experience to VR headsets: Bigscreen will begin showing classic Paramount movies like “Interstellar” and “Star Trek” in a virtual movie theater, where users can watch the films together with friends.

Much like a traditional theater, Bigscreen won’t overwhelm users with on-demand choices. Instead, the company will show only 4 movies every week, with showings starting every 30 minutes. Viewers can personalize their avatars, hang out in the lobby together, and even voice chat with each other.

“Bigscreen’s virtual reality platform offers a new way for fans to experience films in their homes,” said Paramount worldwide home entertainment president Bob Buchi. “We’re excited to be a part of this experiment using cutting-edge technology to give fans a new entertainment option.”

There’s one more way Bigscreen’s new cinema offering is just like your regular movie theater: Consumers will have to pay tickets gain entrance, with each film costing between $4 and $5. Ticket sales begin this Monday. “It’s our first business model,” said Bigscreen founder and CEO Darshan Shankar in a recent conversation with Variety.

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One of the reasons Bigscreen wants to convince consumers to open their wallets is 3D. Theaters have long shown blockbusters in 3D, but consumers have very few options to watch movies in the format after their theatrical run is over. “3D TVs are effectively dead,” said Shankar.

Bigscreen will show select Paramount titles in 3D, and Shankar argued that the experience will actually be better than in theaters, which tend to have only a few seats in a sweet spot for optimal 3D viewing experiences.

The startup has experimented with free event viewing over the past couple of months, and regularly attracted crowds of 1000 viewers or more, according to Shankar. In the future, Bigscreen wants to not only add movies from other studios to its programming also add sports and news content,

Ultimately, the company wants to be able to show movies as close as possible to their theatrical release, said Shankar. “We are moving our way up the chain.”

Bigscreen Cinema with Paramount movies will be available on the Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, HTC Vive, Valve Index, all SteamVR headsets, and all Microsoft Windows Mixed Reality headsets, and will cater to consumers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, and Japan.

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