Last December, Star Wars Episode VII was released, and movie fans everywhere took a trip back to that galaxy far far away. The story of a young scavenger girl, a conflicted soldier, and a rebellion - sorry, we meant resistance - was shown on thousands of screens around the world. That story played out primarily as a cinematic experience, but sometimes you need supplemental media to feel just how deep and vast that world is.
Star Wars has always embraced multimedia when telling stories (Gen Xers will remember Shadows of the Empire, a story set between Episodes V and VI, and told through a myriad of books, comics, and video games), and this openness to new technology was apparent in the 360 virtual reality experience for The Force Awakens.
In the interactive video, you blast through the barren wastes of Jakku while riding Rey's customized speeder. You can pan the camera (your POV) in any direction. Remnants of Star Destroyers loom. Stuff blows up around you. It's an in media res story that requires you to fill in a lot of gaps. In theory, the experience sounds simple enough. It's an interactive video that's still somewhat passive.
But in practice, it actually adds to our overall experience of the movie. It, simply put, tells a story. It's not a deep story, but it gives the senses a lot to chew on- from the terrain littered with the remnants of the Battle of Jakku to marauding scavengers and pirates. It presents these fossilized bits of history from a more visceral perspective (you can almost feel the groan of those repulsors!), giving us an even deeper appreciation for the film.
Supplemental content such as this will become an even bigger part of the promotional push for big genre movies. The fact that it's a promotional tool doesn't take away from its storytelling possibilities. Star Wars The Force Awakens Immersive 360 Experience shows the potential for virtual reality as a story telling medium. We can't wait to see what comes next!