Fox Offers 'The Martian' Virtual Reality Sneak Peak As Samsung VR Gear $99 Goggles Ship

The Martian VR Experience - H 2015
20th Century Fox / Fox Innovation Lab

Twentieth Century Fox has released a sneak peek at its upcoming The Martian VR experience, which is available on the Samsung Milk VR online content portal and timed with availability on Friday of a new $99 consumer version of Samsung VR Gear virtual reality headsets.

The VR experience is executive produced by Ridley Scott—director of The Martian theatrical feature -- and helmed by Robert Stromberg, who directed Disney’s Maleficent and is a two-time Oscar winning production designer. The project was created by 20th Century Fox, Fox Innovation Lab, RSA Films and The VR Company (Stromberg’s VR firm), which partnered with Samsung for this sneak peek.

VR puts the view in a 360-degree immersive environment, and The Martian experience--following the narrative of the movie--starts with a view in space with Mars at a distance, before proceeding to the surface of the Red Planet, and eventually you are at ground level next to Mark Watney (Matt Damon) as he wakes from the accident to find himself stranded. The experience then switches to first person, and you see Mars from inside the helmet of Watney’s spacesuit. Viewers will have the opportunity to drive the rover and perform tasks that will facilitate chances for survival and rescue. There's also some action.

The complete Martian VR Experience, which will run 15-20 minutes, will make its debut in January at CES and be available for tethered devices in 2016 (Fox wants to support all available VR systems).

Fox has taken a keen interest in VR, and related initiatives reside within the Fox Innovation Lab. Driving Fox’s VR strategy are Mike Dunn, president of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment; and Ted Gagliano, president of post production at Fox. Key members of this VR effort at the Innovation Lab are Fox futuristic Ted Schilowitz; Fox Searchlight executive vp of production David Greebaum, who heads up creative on VR; and Mary Daily, CMO and president of worldwide marketing for Fox Home Entertainment, who oversees marketing for Fox Innovation Lab.

The $99 version of Samsung VR Gear was announced at the Oculus Connect 2 developers conference in September. The goggles, which also use Oculus technology, are driven by supported versions of Samsung smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge+, S6 and S6 edge. Additionally, the companies report that this version will be roughly 19 percent lighter than the Gear VR Innovator Edition, as well as offer a redesigned touch pad.