Hollywood hates and fears change. I know. I was once the guy who was hired to convince major studios of the enormous potential of computer generated imagery (CGI). Old school studio execs and directors were convinced it would ruin Hollywood as they knew it, with computerized actors, sets, etc. So 25 years later, it should come as no surprise to hear reluctance to embrace the brand new medium of “immersion,” a new technology that places the viewer into a movie, rather than watch through a window (flat screen) as a passive observer.
Just as Alexander Graham Bell was told by the business establishment there’s no future in his telephone, or Edison saw no practical use for motion pictures, the Hollywood establishment, led by Avatar director James Cameron, doesn’t share all the recent virtual reality hype: “There seems to be a lot of excitement around something (Oculus Rift) that is… a yawn to me,” Cameron said during a recent on-stage interview at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJD Live conference in Southern California. Cameron dismissed Oculus as merely a display for a technology that has been around for 20 years, quipping: “You want to move through a virtual reality? It’s called video game.”
Cameron went on to say that he “thinks about VR every day, but he doesn’t believe that Hollywood will take advantage of the technology for a few more years.” This we can believe. Because just as there was no stopping CGI, there is no stopping the new medium of immersion. No amount of resistance by Hollywood can change the all-too-obvious future of entertainment. After the overwhelming experience of immersion, old fashioned “window movies” seem stale, quaint and outdated. And you can quote us on that, Mr. Cameron.