×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Google Shuts Down Its Spotlight Stories VR Film Studio

Google is shutting down its Spotlight Stories immersive entertainment unit, according to an email sent out by Spotlight Stories executive producer Karen Dufilho Wednesday evening.

Google Spotlight Stories is shutting its doors after over six years of making stories and putting them on phones, on screens, in VR, and anywhere else we could get away with it,” Dufilho said in her email sent to supporters of the studio.

A Google spokesperson acknowledged the shut-down in an email, sending Variety the following statement:

“Since its inception, Spotlight Stories strove to re-imagine VR storytelling. From ambitious shorts like ‘Son of Jaguar,’ ‘Sonaria’ and ‘Back to The Moon’ to critical acclaim for ‘Pearl’ (Emmy winner and first-ever VR film nominated for an Oscar) the Spotlight Stories team left a lasting impact on immersive storytelling. We are proud of the work the team has done over the years.”

Google’s spokesperson didn’t address questions about layoffs associated with the move, but a source with knowledge of the situation told Variety that staffers were given a chance to look for new positions within the company. Most artists who had been working on projects for Spotlight Stories were thought to be contractors on a by-project basis.

Spotlight Stories originally began as a group within Motorola, tasked with exploring the future of storytelling for mobile devices. The group then became part of Google’s Advanced Technologies and Products (ATAP) group, and went on to produce a number of 360-degree videos and VR experiences with creators like Glen Keane, Justin Lin, Jorge Gutierrez and Aardman Animation, the makers of “Wallace and Gromit.”

“Pearl,” a Spotlight Story from Patrick Osborne, the director of Disney’s Oscar-nominated short film “Feast,” was nominated for an Academy Award, and won a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Programming in 2017. Most recently, Spotlight Stories released “Age of Sail,” an animated short film directed by Oscar-winning animator John Kahrs.

Google is said to have invested significant amounts of money into Spotlight Stories over the years, without giving the group a mandate to monetize their works. However, while Spotlight Stories films pushed the medium forward, the group didn’t necessarily improve the fortunes of Google’s VR efforts, with the company struggling to find an audience for its Daydream VR headset.

Update: 3/14: This post was updated with a statement from Google.

More Digital

  • FilMart: Iflix Teams With Black Ops

    FilMart: Iflix Teams With Black Ops for Philippines Film, TV

    Black Ops Studios Asia has struck a deal with Asian streaming service iflix to create original content from the Philippines. The companies said that BlackOps will deliver at least one feature film and one TV series before the end of the year, but they did not specify any titles, genres or talent attachments. “As the [...]

  • Jim PackerPRESS PLAY: Variety Home Entertainment

    FilMart: Jim Packer Says Liongate Ready to Support Starz Global Rollout

    A keynote speaker at Hong Kong’s FilMart this week, Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s president of worldwide TV and digital distribution, shares plans to support Starz’ international expansion. And he recounts his experience of watching Netflix change up through the gears. Back in 2012, when Lionsgate was still casting “Orange is the New Black,” Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s [...]

  • Devin Nunes

    Devin Nunes Files $250 Million Defamation Lawsuit Against Twitter

    U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes filed a $250 million defamation lawsuit against Twitter on Monday, alleging that he has been the victim of hundreds of hate-filled tweets. The suit also takes aim at Liz Mair, a Republican communications consultant who has attacked Nunes on Twitter, and the anonymous accounts “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow.” [...]

  • Reed Hastings Netflix

    Netflix Won't Be Part of Apple's Video Service, CEO Reed Hastings Confirms

    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings confirmed at a press event in Los Angeles Monday that his company won’t be taking part in Apple’s upcoming video service. “Apple is a great company,” Hastings said. However, Netflix wanted to control its experience within its own app, which is why it wasn’t working with Apple. “We have chosen not [...]

  • mark Beaven

    If Spotify Is Holding Town Halls for Songwriters, They Must Be Open (Guest Column)

    Earlier this month, Amazon, Google, SiriusXM and Spotify challenged the Copyright Royalty Board’s decision to increase the compulsory mechanical rates paid to songwriters by 44% over the next five years. The streamers have come under fierce criticism for the move, which they claim is over the complexities of the CRB’s rules but is widely assumed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content