Convincing the biggest names in the gaming industry to get into VR is going to be tough, largely because of the relatively low install base of most headsets in comparison to more mainstream devices like consoles and smartphones. Filmmakers, however, can look at the tech from another angle.
Yes, it’s still expensive to make 360-degree VR movies and other content, but VR movies might end up being driven by more accessible means like the location-based cinematic pods that IMAX is setting up. They can also run on mobile VR, a platform that already has millions of users across Gear VR, Google Cardboard and Daydream.
Unlike games, then, many of the biggest names in film have already spoken up about VR. Here’s what they had to say.
As far as making big budget blockbusters that are beloved by the world over go, you don’t get much bigger than Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, Indiana Jones, E.T., and countless other properties. You’ll know that VR’s made it when he’s making VR films but, at least until then, he is making one about the industry.
Spielberg is currently working on an adaptation of Ready Player One, a sci-fi novel that’s practically recommended reading for VR enthusiasts. That said he has made some troubling comments in the past, stating that he thinks the freedom VR gives viewers might be “dangerous” for film making. He is working on a VR project too, though, so let’s see if that sways him.
Guillermo Del Toro
With films as celebrated as Pan’s Labyrinth, you might think Guillermo Del Toro is too big for VR right now. But the director also showed his blockbuster side with Pacific Rim, and he actually used VR to help him with it.
In the past, Del Toro has confessed his love for VR technology. Several of his most recent films, including Crimson Peak, have had accompanying VR experiences. If we were to bet that anyone would make a full VR movie in the near future, our money would be on Del Toro.
James Cameron has the two biggest grossing movies of all time under his belt with Titanic and Avatar, and the latter was a technical marvel too. With Cameron having revolutionized 3D and CG technology in Avatar and set to give us more of it with the upcoming sequels, you’d think he would be excited by the prospect of VR. Sadly, that’s not quite the case.
Cameron is the only person on this list that’s been almost entirely critical of VR so far. Most recently he claimed that any narrative art form that emerged from the tech could not be classed as a movie. Before that, he called it boring. Oh well, no Avatar VR for you.
If you’ve ever come back from the theatre and had a nightmare in the past decade or so, there’s a good chance it was induced by one of Eli Roth’s gore-filled terrors. Here’s a director that doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to harming his characters, as best seen in the memorably disgusting Hostel. We’re not sure we’d want to see something like that in VR, but we might just get it anyway.
Last year Roth posted a picture of himself using an early HTC Vive developer kit, joking that he loved the experience so much he might stop making movies altogether. So, who knows? You might soon have a VR experience where someone is slicing out your tongue or something equally horrific. Resident Evil 7 already comes pretty close, though.
The Russo Brothers
You might not recognize the names Joe and Anthony Russo right now, but there’s a good chance you will in a years’ time. The directors have become known by Marvel fans for making two of the better most recent superhero films in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and its sequel, Civil War. Next year, however, they take the reigns of the Avengers franchise too, and they want VR to be a part of it.
Last year, we reported that the Russo brothers were looking into how VR might play a part in the upcoming Marvel mega event. They branded the tech as “pretty incredible”, saying it would change how people understood movies. That’s ambitious, and we can’t wait to see what comes of it.
If Justin Lin is making a movie these days there’s a good chance that plenty of explosions will follow. Just look at his Fast and Furious films, or his action-packed take of the Star Trek franchise in Star Trek Beyond. But would the director ever bring his brand of explosions to VR? Actually, he already has.
Lin was the director of one of Google’s 360 degree spotlight stories, released last year. HELP is an action-packed monster driven adventure with production values rarely seen in the technology thus far. Don’t miss it.
J.J. Abrams is very good at making things big again, be it Star Trek, Star Wars, or even Mission: Impossible. The director/writer has a penchant for creating likable, loveable movies that relate to a global audience. That’s the kind of person you want making VR films.
Abrams is both excited and cautious of VR tech, though, knowing just how immersive it can be but also the strain it puts on long-form entertainment. He thinks some experiences will work best in VR while others wouldn’t work at all. But he’s happy the industry is figuring it out, and that’s what’s really important.
Recently it seems like everything Favreau touches turns to gold. He kick started the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008’s Iron Man and his recent live action adaptation of The Jungle Book has been so successful that Disney has handed him the keys to a similar, but much more prominent kingdom in the form of The Lion King. He’s a busy man to say the least but, in his spare time, Faverau is already doing something magical with VR.
The director is working with Wevr on Gnomes & Goblins, one of the most intriguing VR experiences for the HTC Vive to date. It’s not a 360 movie but instead a full room-scale VR experience that could signify what VR movies may one day really be like. We can’t wait for it to grow into something bigger.