Spheres has become the first VR project to be snapped up in a seven-figure deal at Sundance.
The three-part series, exec-produced by Darren Aronofsky and created by Eliza McNitt, takes audiences inside a black hole collision. Asking audiences to listen to the gravitational waves and music created by two black holes crashing into each other one billion years ago, the immersive experience boasts a score from Stranger Things composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein. Episode 1 (Songs of Spacetime), narrated by Jessica Chastain, premiered at Sundance Film Festival as part of its New Frontier selection.
It marks Sundance’s growing commitment to showcasing the latest in VR and AR creations – a trend that is spreading across film festivals worldwide, with Raindance leading the way in the UK with its own virtual reality arm. Now, Spheres has taken that trend one step further.
The exact amount of the deal hasn’t been revealed, but with Netflix and Amazon both absent from any major acquisitions at this year’s festival – following two years of huge spending sprees – Spheres has highlighted the growing value of VR movies and series on the film industry scene. The series was snapped up not be a traditional studio, though, but by VR backer and distributor CityLights.
“Spheres explores the songs of the cosmos,” said McNitt in a statement. “Most people think space is silent – it’s not. We’re excited for CityLights to help bring this experience to the world as we pioneer a new path to create and distribute immersive stories.”
“We’re incredibly excited to work with Eliza and the entire team on Spheres,” added CityLights co-founder Joel Newton. “The ambition and generative nature of the vision for Spheres perfectly fits with our mission to bring content to broader audiences and showcase the types of experiences only VR can deliver.”
“This is a historic moment for the VR industry; it signifies that a viable storytelling medium has emerged,” Jess Engel, who produced Spheres, told Wired. “Deals like this establish VR as its own marketplace for independent creators, producers, and investors.”
As part of the deal, Spheres will premiere on Oculus Rift this year, before CityLights looks to expand distribution elsewhere.