SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — In 2017, movie ticket sales hit their lowest point in more then 25 years and many blamed the slump on competition from Netflix and video games.
But this year, sales are up and now a movie theater in the South Bay is going interactive in hopes of luring even more people back to big screen.
Instead of a ticket, moviegoers get a boarding pass. Instead of watching a movie, you’re the star.
KPIX 5 got an exclusive sneak peek at the Bay Area‘s first virtual reality movie theater. It’s an experience that’s being described as ‘gaming meets movies meets Disneyland.’
Spaces, the entertainment technology company born out of DreamWorks Animation, has teamed up with Cinemark Century 20 Theater at the Oakridge Mall in San Jose to bring virtual reality movies to Bay Area moviegoers.
The first VR movie experience is Terminator Salvation: Fight for the Future, a movie produced especially for the virtual reality experience.
Moviegoers have their faces scanned using Spaces’ 3-D face scanning technology. It puts your face on your character in the virtual reality movie.
Moviegoers are then given their mission and suit up in full virtual reality gear from head to toe.
Once ushered onto the stage, you and three friends are transported through time and space to fight terminator robots and save the world.
While Spaces already has locations in Orange County and Tokyo, this is the first location in a real movie theater.
Company CEO Shiraz Akmal said Spaces chose Silicon Valley because it is central to the innovation and technology used to bring their product to life.
Cinemark‘s James Meredith notes this is just the latest technology upgrade to movie theaters that he says is successfully getting people to put down the small screen and come back to the big one.
“First luxury lounge recliners and XD auditoriums, and now something like this. This is the perfect example of of VR coming together with movies,” said Meredith.
But the Spaces experience is more than a movie; it’s a mission where you’re transported into a virtual world and tasked with saving it, in this case – Terminator-style.
Outside the virtual world, heat lamps and vibrating floors are just a few of the tricks that bring the VR to life.
“They integrated real world objects with some of the VR stuff. I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Robert, a moviegoer who got a sneak peak Tuesday.
But now that he has, Robert says he can’t wait to see it again.
“I want to bring my friends,” he said.
Which is exactly what Spaces and Cinemark are counting on. Spaces at Cinemark Century Oakridge Mall opens to the public Friday.
Ticket prices range from $19.99 to $29.99 depending on day and time. For more information, visit the Cinemark website, cinemark.com/spaces.