Feature Story

Virtual Reality: The next big storytelling medium?

by Stephanie Chan

Virtual Reality: The next big storytelling medium?

With the new Beauty and the Beast film incorporating a VR game, where will virtual reality and films go next?

Disney's live-action remake of its fairytale classic Beauty and the Beast made an opening box office smash with an estimated $170 million.

Fanatics who want even more of the film can also experience an interactive virtual reality game using the Oculus Rift. Mashable reports that Lumiere's Dress Rehearsal lets users strap on the Rift as well as hold the Oculus Touch controllers that allow for a completely immersive gameplay. Animated film lovers who want to put themselves into Beauty and the Beast via VR can find the game on the Disney VR app.

Virtual Reality—perhaps like 3D before it—is a complicated issue in Hollywood. Directors sway on one side or the other when it comes to incorporating the new technology in their films. Upload VR reports that virtual reality is creating fans out of certain big-names like directors Guillermo Del Toro and Justin Lin. Lin, the director of The Fast and the Furious, also directed a Google 360-degree spotlight story called HELP. On the other side is Titanic director James Cameron, who finds the tech boring.

But could virtual reality truly be a game changer for the box office? As Laurence Cruz writes, much like the inclusion of sound in films and even television sets in living rooms, storytelling and video is constantly transforming.

Ridley Scott's Alien franchise will be getting the VR treatment with a new virtual reality short. For the upcoming Alien: Covenant film, VR director David Karlak will create an experience that allows gamers to walk through alien environments.

IMAX also plans on implementing more VR into the moviegoing experience, with a flagship virtual reality center in Los Angeles and more planned to come. For a little extra in the movie ticket fee, filmgoers can go to IMAX's VR center after a movie and experience a VR game. Techradar reports that the centers include VR pods where users can play a game like one based on the John Wick Chronicles.

Whether directors love VR or hate it, the technology is still infiltrating the Hollywood film industry and beyond. We'll have to wait and see if virtual reality will truly be the next huge force in media.