Virtual reality in movie marketing campaigns has been on the rise for a few years now. There’s loads of experiences like the one Lionsgate did for The Divergent Series: Insurgent earlier this year during which you sit in chair, wear glasses and watch some footage while a fan blows in your face, but very few truly transport you into a film. However, Paramount did just take a big step in the right direction.
In celebration of the DVD, Blu-ray and digital HD release of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Paramount set up a virtual reality experience in Bryant Park in New York City that’s meant to make you feel like you’re hanging from the side of a plane, just like Tom Cruise in the movie. Rather than sitting with the glasses on the entire time, this experience requires that you stand and don a harness. Then, when the plane takes off in the footage, your legs are lifted up which does start to give you the sensation that your body is flapping in the wind. However, there was one major component missing from the experience – actual wind. There is a light breeze coming your way, but if you’re expected to believe that you’re flying high, 5,000 feet in the air, you need a pretty significant gust in your face.
So maybe the Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation virtual reality experience wasn’t the ultimate package, but it’s definitely pushing the technology further than most. At this point, my favorite movie-themed VR is still the one done for The Walk back in September. In that one, you put the glasses on and see what Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sees when he steps out onto the high wire between the towers of the World Trade Center. Clearly you cannot fall, but what gives you the sensation that you might is the fact that you are asked to step out on a small rope taped to the ground. You’re not even elevated in the slightest, but there’s something about being able to feel “the wire” beneath your feet that messes with your head and makes you terrified to take one wrong step.
There’s no doubt that studios will keep producing VR experiences so hopefully most will take a cue from Paramount and Sony and use unconventional techniques to add to the technology rather than resorting to the now all-too-familiar sitting/fan in your face arrangement.
You can check out some photos from my experience hanging from the side of the plane and some images of the footage I was seeing in the glasses below. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is currently out on DVD, Blu-ray and digital HD, and if you haven’t had the chance to catch it already, I highly recommend checking it out.