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'Interstellar' Screenings Will Be the Latest to Charge You Extra for a Movie Theater Gimmick

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | October 6, 2014 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | October 6, 2014 |

Ah to be a teenager again, in the halcyon days of the nineties, when full employment was a near thing and our biggest scandal was who the President was nailing that week. The commies were gone and terrorists hadn’t been invented yet. Life was good.

A visitor came to a club I belonged to, I don’t even remember which one now because I’m old and the individual memories seem to get crisper even while all the surrounding context fades to sepia. The visitor had a virtual reality kit. We each took turns, astonished at the world within a world. Turn your head, your view changes. Move your hands, you touch things.

And after ten minutes the thrill wore off because while it was novel, the actual visual quality wasn’t anything fancier than the video games we had at home on PCs, and there wasn’t actually anything interesting to do in the virtual world. Plus wearing a brick duct-taped to the front of your face is uncomfortable and awkward. It was more tech demo than hands-on entertainment demo. Five years and everyone would be using these. And those famous words were uttered — not for the first time, I’d learn later: THIS WILL CHANGE GAMING FOREVER.

Virtual reality has been five years away from changing everything about entertainment for the last thirty years. It’s been making promises so long that if you dug up the first instances of it, you’d need a microfiche machine and not a search engine. It never delivers. We never learn. The headlines get recycled, a new generation of people who weren’t around the last time the promises were made get excited. So it goes.

This time the device that will CHANGE GAMING FOREVER is the Oculus Rift. Sounds like the name of an off brand cell phone from 2005 trying to compete with the Motorola Razr. It’s expected to be released next year for a few hundred dollars. Everyone who uses one insists that it puts the sauce in the awesome, and goes on to write a glowing article about how the device that costs more than just buying a new game console will CHANGE GAMING FOREVER.

Now the movie industry is getting on it too. Because there is nothing that the movie industry loves more than charging you extra to strap a gimmick to your face that you don’t want that gives you headaches. Exhibit A: the 3D glasses movie theaters have rolled out every ten years for the last fifty.

Select showings of Interstellar will feature the device, not for the movie, but for a “custom experience.” Brothels usually charge extra for that, so you’ve got that going for you. From the official press circlejerk:

For the first time ever, the virutal world of filmmakers Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated new film will be available to the public in select AMC Theatre locations featuring IMAX screens. People can sit down, strap in, and immerse themselves as they travel through the “Endurance” spacecraft in zero gravity through a custom Interstellar Oculus Rift Experience.

Ah press releases, come for the bullshit, stay for the typos that spellcheck should have caught. I’m fully aware this means that according to the laws of irony I have at least one typo in this article, and that at least one commenter will complain about it with no sense of irony at all.

Here are the times and locations so you can avoid them and just more efficiently stay home and light money on fire:

New York - AMC Lincoln Square 13 - October 6-8
Houston - AMC Gulf Pointe 30 - October 17-19
Los Angeles - AMC Universal Citywalk 19 - October 25-27
Washington DC - Smithsonian - November 5-December 6

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Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.