The alien invasion is finally here, thanks to a new virtual reality (VR) experience at the Westfield Century City mall in California. The VR startup Dreamscape Immersive has created a location-based VR exhibit that lets fans interact with a range of bizarre alien life forms during the journey.
Intrepid explorers don VR headsets, headphones, a backpack, and reflectors on their hands and feet for the 12-minute experience. It’s a new kind of “location-based” VR with full-body tracking that the company hopes to replicate across the country.
Groups of six people, accompanied by a virtual avatar, explore the movielike world and interact with otherworldly creatures, and not all of them are friendly. The cinematic presentation even includes a musical score by Hans Zimmer.
Co-founder Walter Parkes was a producer of blockbusters like Men in Black, and this attraction has a different focus than many VR exhibits. “Most virtual reality companies tend to have one foot in the tech world and one foot in gaming,” he recently told Deadline. ”We have one foot in theme park attractions and one foot in big movies.”
The team created their own universe for the attraction but that won’t always be the case, as Parkes told the Hollywood Reporter. “We decided to start with an original piece of content,” he said. “A lot of these things tend to be tied to movies, and our next set of properties will be connected to major franchises, but we thought it was interesting to start with something new.”
The company has gotten backing from Hollywood with big players such as 21st Century Fox and Warner Bros. A recent round of financing pulled in an additional $30 million, according to UploadVR, with companies like AMC Entertainment and Nickelodeon jumping on board.
AMC plans to open up six more Dreamscape locations, and Nickelodeon is looking to produce a Dreamscape experience based on its properties. “When you hear VR, you tend to think tech and gaming and being alone in a headset but we’re going for something different,” said Parkes. “It’s very important for us to bring this into a mainstream environment.”
Alien Zoo at the Westfield has been so popular that it’s been extended until March 14, but many dates are already sold out.