AMC is putting $10 million toward a Series B investment round and another $10 million toward VR content. The company will also help underwrite, open and operate up to six theatrical locations in North America and the U.K. over the next 18 months. Mall developer Westfield, an investor in Dreamscape, plans to open a flagship location at its renovated Century City mall in early 2018. Some of the VR sites will be within existing AMC locations; others will be stand-alones.
Dreamscape’s co-chairmen are Walter Parkes and Kevin Wall. Its CEO is Bruce Vaughn, former head of Disney Imagineering.
From AMC’s perspective, the partnership is an avenue to restoring some of the luster of the theatrical experience through new technological means.
“Dreamscape Immersive ushers in an exciting new world in virtual reality and reminds us through its trailblazing all-enveloping technology that we really are living in the 21st century. A dazzling future is now at hand,” said Adam Aron, CEO and President of AMC Entertainment in a press release.
Parkes said the team-up would help bridge the worlds of VR and theatrical exhibition. “While Dreamscape’s immersive technologies represent the cutting edge of the digital world, its heart and soul rests firmly in the shared language of film,” he said. “So it’s tremendously exciting that our first major commercial partnership is with the world’s largest cinema exhibitor.” Added Vaughn, “We look forward to working with AMC to offer audiences the opportunity to actually step into and experience imaginative worlds previously only available through watching movies.”
The company’s technology uses body-mapping tools developed by the Swiss research foundation Artanim, which give participants full body presence as rendered avatars inside virtual worlds. Unlike other VR platforms that are device- or computer-dependent, Dreamscape offers a social experience in which participants explore and interact with up to six people simultaneously, as they would in the real world.
Dreamscape’s top-shelf backers include Warner Bros., Fox, MGM, Imax and Steven Spielberg. Its roster of advisers includes filmmaker Gore Verbinski, composer Hans Zimmer and former Disney COO Tom Staggs.