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The Lion King’s Circle of Life gets the virtual reality treatment

“Circle of Life” 360° Experience | THE LION KING on Broadway
Broadway is going VR.

Popular Broadway show The Lion King is capitalizing on the trend toward virtual reality (VR) by offering the popular opening tune from the Broadway show, Circle of Life, through digital platforms in VR, reports Variety.

Initially offered this morning through Wired, the new video provides a full 360-degree experience of the performance from the long-running Broadway play, viewable on devices like Google Cardboard through YouTube 360, Samsung Gear VR headset, or other available VR devices. The video can also be watched on a standard desktop or tablet, though you won’t, of course, get the full effect without a true VR platform and device. It’s still a stunning performance, nonetheless.

Related: Live streaming virtual reality startup NextVR gets a boost from Comcast and Time Warner

Wired, for its part, calls the video an “incredible experience,” pointing to the ability to see the amazing costumes, choreography, music, and set design up close and personal. In some ways, it’s likely more immersive than having front row tickets to the live show, since you’re able to view the performance from many different angles. The video was filmed using six GoPro cameras that moved around the stage, including footage from five performances of the opening number to get the various angles. The video was produced by Total Cinema 360, and offers a look at the performance of the iconic song through a number of perspectives on the stage.

This, says Disney Theatrical Productions, marks the first time a live Broadway show has been offered in this manner, though School of Rock did release a 360-degree video of one song from the musical that was filmed in a public school classroom in New York. That video managed to get more than a million views on YouTube and Facebook alone in less than three days.

The Lion King has been in production for 18 years, and continues to be a bestseller on Broadway. The idea behind the new 360-degree VR video is to use it as a new form of marketing for the production, potentially helping to attract a new audience. With an influx of hot, new Broadway content constantly added to the roster, it’s a new way that the aging show can continue to stay on the map.

While it doesn’t display the full 360-degree experience in the same immersive way you’d experience it with a VR device, you can view the five-minute video above.

Update: The article was amended to clarify that you can view the 360-degrees from a regular desktop, using a compatible browser like Chrome.

Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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