Ready Player One will help drive awareness for VR when it hits theaters May 29, but don’t expect it to solve the industry’s problems overnight, one analyst said.
“We’ve been hearing everybody put the future of the VR industry on the shoulders of this movie,” Debby Ruth, senior vice president of global media and entertainment at Magid told AListDaily. “One movie isn’t going to change the fortunes of an entire industry.”
Ruth cites two major frictions that VR must solve before humanity finally embraces its VR destiny—lack of content and complicated setups.
“Even if people are excited by what they see in the movie and the concept of VR in general, those two things still exist as issues for the industry,” said Ruth. “Hopefully headsets coming this year will help reduce that friction and making it easier for people to use it.”
One VR headset manufacturer that may already be benefiting from Ready Player One—at least in terms of brand awareness—is HTC Vive, which has been instrumental in promoting the film. Ruth says that “tying itself to the movie promotion juggernaut” could be a benefit for the VR headset manufacturer.
Together with Warner Bros., HTC Vive promoted Ready Player One at SXSW with eight pieces of VR content in an experiential event that culminated in a screening with Steven Spielberg.
Brand awareness is a plus, but Ruth predicts a more immediate benefit for movie theaters themselves.
“I think it will have an impact especially for location-based experiences that are in theaters,” Ruth stated. “I think it’s a really great opportunity for theater owners to see a little bump in their business.”
Last year, movie theater attendance in the US and Canada hit its lowest point since 1992. In response, many theaters are changing their business models to include gourmet food, alcohol and audio technology not found at home. That includes VR experiences, like the ones IMAX debuted in AMC theaters last year.
Analyst firm Jefferies, meanwhile, is more confident in Ready Player One‘s ability to boost the VR industry, especially for companies that manufacture headset components.
“We believe that the movie will drive sales of VR headsets that require high-performance GPUs [graphics processing units],” Jefferies analyst Mark Lipacis said Monday in a statement.