Everyone and their brother is getting into the virtual reality game as word comes now that STX Entertainment has acquired Surreal Inc., a producer and distributor of immersive content. Under terms of the deal, Surreal will operate as a division of STX, led by co-founders Rick Rey and Andy Vick, who now will serve as co-presidents of VR and Immersive Entertainment under the new STX Surreal label. Overseeing the new division will be STX president Sophie Watts. And we can expect STX to add new hires to support its move into creating VR content.
This comes on the heels of STX becoming strategic equity partners with Chinese company Tencent and Hong Kong telecom giant PCCW in a deal that pumps in about $700M in new capital into STX to grow its TV and international operations, digital platforms and push into virtual reality. This acquisition of Surreal is using some of those funds.
Having produced more than 70 immersive entertainment experiences, Rey and Vick are among those at the forefront of VR, including live-action 360-degree video and interactive VR content. As co-heads of the division, they will “continue to develop a wide range of original VR films, TV series and branded programming, as well as immersive derivatives of STX film, television and digital properties.”
“Virtual reality is exploding, and STX sees a unique opportunity to create one-of-a-kind content by pairing the world’s biggest stars and storytellers with best-in-class VR capabilities,” Watts said in announcing the deal.
Before joining STX, Rey was co-founder and CEO of Surreal, where he oversaw its overall direction, business strategy and key strategic partnerships. Prior to co-founding Surreal, he served as General Manager of Entertainment at Maker Studios, where he oversaw content operations, programming strategy and branded entertainment for the company’s comedy, music, film, news, pop culture and animation. Before that, he was VP Original Programming and Development at indie video platform Blip, which later was acquired by Maker.
Vick co-founded and served as chief content officer at Surreal. He was responsible for the company’s content development, talent partnerships and programming strategy across multiple content categories and distribution platforms. Prior to that, he served as head of development at Maker. He started out in the entertainment industry writing and producing TV and film for such companies as DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox.