Watching movies in virtual reality (VR) is about to get a whole lot better. Bigscreen, a VR movie watching startup, just announced that it is partnering with Paramount Pictures to distribute movies.
The service is compatible with the wildly popular Oculus Quest VR headset. Essentially, it allows people to enjoy a movie from the comfort of their home while having a truly cinematic experience. Whether users want to take in a film around a campfire or in an old-school theater, Bigscreen lets them enjoy hit movies in stunning VR quality while retaining the social aspect of moviegoing.
Bigscreen Gets Bigger
Prior to the partnership with Paramount, Bigscreen users could sync up a service like Netflix or Twitch to watch a movie or show in VR. Of course, this limited the experience to content that is available on those platforms.
By joining forces with Paramount, the startup will now be able to offer new movies as well as old favorites on a pay-per-view basis. Starting in December, users will be able to view “Interstellar,” “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and “Star Trek,” in VR.
Bigscreen plans to host a rotating schedule of four new movies every week through its service. Most of the films shown in the digital theater will be normal, 2D features. However, a few will take advantage of VR’s capabilities and be shown in 3D. Considering that the era of 3D televisions is effectively dead, the startup hopes that this will give consumers a way to watch 3D films in a manner similar to their theatrical release.
The first round of films will debut on December 16. The service will be available in several countries including the United States, Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, and Japan.
New Theater Experience
While watching a movie through a VR headset certainly isn’t for everyone, it is a fun experience. If you already own the hardware, it’s certainly worth a try. At first, it seems a little strange to watch a movie in a virtual theater when you could just go do it in real life. After all, most VR applications put the user in a non-realistic situation like battling a Sith lord in “Vader Immortal.”
That’s where Bigscreen comes in. To retain the moviegoing experience, the service hosts group viewings in a virtual theater. Users can create a custom avatar that sits down to watch the film. Showings of the selected four movies will begin every 30 minutes, sort of like a regular theater. Once it’s over, users can hang out together in a virtual lobby and voice chat with others about the movie they just saw.
Just like at a normal theater, moviegoers will need a ticket to get into a showing. Each movie will cost between $4 and $5. Compared to today’s movie theater prices, that’s a steal. Should Bigscreen continue to add new films closer to their release dates, and if more users adopt VR hardware, it isn’t hard to see how the service could quickly become competitive.
The emphasis on experiencing a movie in a group setting is what makes Bigscreen special and differentiates it from just “watching a move in VR.” After a few minutes, it’s easy to forget that you’re sitting on the couch and not in a seat at the theater.