Spaces is teaming up with Cinemark Holdings to open virtual reality entertainment centers in a movie theater in San Jose, California. The idea is to give people motivation to get off their couches and be entertained in theaters in an age of Netflix and home VR.
Cinemark is one of the world’s largest movie theater chains, and it is opening a VR experience on February 8 at its Century 20 Oakridge and XD theatre in San Jose, California, at the Westfield Oakridge Shopping Center. Tickets are on sale now at Spaces.
Back in August, Spaces opened its first VR center in Irvine, California, with its Terminator: Salvation-themed VR experience, Terminator Salvation: Fight for the Future. That experience, which I tried out at Spaces headquarters in Burbank, California, adds more sensors and tactile feedback than you typically find with a home VR headset. As such, Spaces is getting players at its location-based entertainment centers to feel more immersed in the experience. And it has physical features like ramps and motion platforms that shake and add to the realism.
“Cinemark is constantly innovating and providing new experiences for our guests; we love taking entertainment and moviegoing to the next level,” said Mark Zoradi, Cinemark’s CEO, in a statement. “Cinemark is excited to partner with SPACES to provide our Bay area guests with a fun, immersive, mixed-reality adventure.”
Players can gear up and join the resistance in the fight against Skynet in an untethered adventure that takes place in the Terminator universe. Upon entering Cinemark Spaces, guests will register and then scan their faces using Spaces’ 3D face-scanning technology. Up to four people can play together in a group.
After the players take off their headsets, they can receive a cinematic video of their experience that they can take home and share on social media.
“At Spaces, we say ‘Go anywhere, do anything,’ where guests are the stars of the experiences,” said Shiraz Akmal, Spaces CEO, in a statement. “We provide consumers an incredible, virtual reality adventure where they can suit up and escape with their friends. Guests depart from Spaces and are transported into the action. We especially love that our experiences are meant to be shared; people repeat the experiences with friends and family again and again.”
The Spaces team, headed by Shiraz Akmal, spun out of DreamWorks to focus on VR.
Earlier this summer, I tried out the two-player Terminator experience at Spaces’ headquarters. In the VR game, you join the resistance along with a friend. The experience starts as you register and scan your face into the system, so that when you look at other players in the animated VR game, you can see their faces. It uses Spaces Faces, a proprietary 3D scanning system that captures guest faces.
Then you suit up into your outfit, which includes a VR headset, an HP Omen X VR Backpack with a laptop in it, and sensors on your elbows and feet. And the end of the process, you get a gun to hold in your hands.
Then you don the headset and move into the animated VR world. I walked up a ramp to a metal platform with rails. Once I was on the platform with my partner, Akmal, it started rising up. Inside the VR world, I was in the ruins of an industrial building.
Then we were surrounded by mechanical Terminator robots that started shooting at us. The haptic feedback gave me a tactile feeling when I got hit by an enemy. I had to dodge fire and shoot back. I tossed grenades and had to walk around the platform, flip switches, and then survive the swarm of robots that tried to stop us.
It was pretty intense, and I left the experience sweating. It’s the way that VR should be, and it’s reminder that having a headset and hand controllers at home isn’t the same kind of experience as what you can do at a dedicated VR location.
The Spaces team has background in film, television, video games, and theme parks. The company has raised over $10 million from Comcast Ventures; Songcheng Performance Co.; Match VC; Boost VC; Canyon Creek Capital; Colopl VR Fund; GREE Inc.; Kai Huang; Sinovation Fund; The Venture Reality Fund; and Youku Global Media Fund, and CRCM VC. It also has a $30 million partnership with Songcheng Performance Co. to build next generation attractions for parks and retail locations.