My Blade Runner 2049 Experience
San Diego’s biggest annual event takes over downtown every year… I’m talking, of course, of Comic-Con! Probably my favorite weekend of the year, this was my sixth time attending Comic-Con, and once again, it didn’t disappoint. I did a lot at this year’s Comic-Con both inside and out of the convention center, but one of the biggest highlights from this year was easily the Blade Runner 2049 Experience.
As you all know, Alcon Entertainment is releasing a follow up to the 1982 science fiction classic, Blade Runner. Titled Blade Runner 2049, and directed by Denis Villeneuve, the film is getting released this October. Denis has earned a lot of buzz in recent years with films such as, Prisoners, Sicario, and last year’s Arrival. This slew of hit films has secured his status as an A-list filmmaker, thus leaving no doubt for his capability with crafting a sequel to such a beloved classic.
Like just about everything at Comic-Con, the Blade Runner 2049 Experience had a line…a long one (The fact that it was outside the convention hall, and didn’t require a comic con badge, didn’t help matters.) However, this was the one off-site activation I was determined to get in to, so I stood there and endured the 3 hour wait. I know, most of you are going to say that 3 hours is crazy, but when it comes to Comic-Con, a 3 hour wait actually isn’t that bad. I heard the line for the Game of Thrones activation was 12 hours and don’t even get me started on the Hall H lines. So yeah, 3 hours, not too bad and I needed to get in to the Blade Runner 2049 Experience.
The first part of the Blade Runner 2049 Experience was a VR experience.
You start off entering this big room where you sit in a chair, and someone hands you a VR headset to strap on, as well as giant noise cancelling headphones, ensuring a complete immersive experience.
You begin in a spinner, and you’re told there’s a replicant in a stolen spinner that you have to find and track. I took off and hovered through the downtown LA skyline, trying to strike the perfect balance between tracking other spinners, and taking in my surroundings. Eventually, you find the spinner you’re looking for, and an intense chase ensues.
I won’t spoil where it goes from there. For those of you who didn’t make it inside, fear not, because Alcon made it available to download right here.
The whole VR demo lasts roughly 5 minutes, after which someone helps you take the headset off, and you see that the wall you were staring at when you sat down is no longer there, and the room opens up into a re-creation of future Los Angeles! They had a full size spinner replica, along with multiple actors walking around in character, then you turn a corner and there’s a huge area that’s a basically a street. There’s a noodle bar, other vehicles, replicants, cops, props from the movie, etc!
At the end of the “street”, you can enter Bibi’s Bar, where they have vials of Johnnie Walker samples. Next to the bar, there were free noodle samples to try as well. After finishing my “meal”, I did another lap of the whole area, taking pics, and making sure I didn’t miss anything.
What an experience!
Film marketing has evolved considerably from just posters and trailers. While these elements are still at the core of film promotion, you also have everything from viral online marketing, to wholly immersive interactive experiences like such as the Blade Runner 2049 Experience.
This year was arguably the best in Comic-Con history in terms of offsite experiences. From Westworld to The Upside Down, to future Los Angeles, the networks and studios came down to the Gaslamp and gave attendees memories they are unlikely to forget.
As someone involved in video production, it’s exciting to see cool new technologies like VR continue to evolve and grow. We’re incredibly lucky to be at the beginning of a new way of storytelling such as this. It’s only going to get better from here. I’m excited for the future of VR, and I’m definitely excited for Blade Runner 2049!