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Virtual reality startup Jaunt is making a big push into scripted immersive stories.
The company, which produces VR experiences and develops hardware and software for making and consuming VR, has unveiled a slate of five new scripted projects, including a drug-fueled comedy and an adaptation of cult classic The Lawnmower Man, ahead of the Sundance Film Festival.
The projects come on the heels of Jaunt’s first high-profile project, Invisible from Doug Liman, which premiered last year. Jaunt head of content Tom Vance is overseeing the development of the new projects out of the company’s Santa Monica-based content arm, Jaunt Studios.
“As we continue to develop more immersive, cinematic VR content with high production values and longer run times, it solidifies for us that VR is fast becoming a mainstream staple within the entertainment industry,” said Jaunt CEO George Kliavkoff, adding that 2016 was “the final year of experimentation, and every indication is that 2017 will be the year of action and adoption. We’re excited to be in development on all five of these series alongside some of today’s top talent.”
Among the projects is a VR adaptation of sci-fi cult classic The Lawnmower Man, which was an early depiction of what it would be like to enter virtual reality. Jaunt says it has partnered with the original 1992 film’s rights holders to reimagine it in VR.
Jaunt is also teaming with Exodus: Gods and Kings writers Adam Cooper and Bill Collage on 12-episode sci-fi suspense series Luna. Directed by Robert Schwentke (Allegiant, Insurgent), Luna tells the story of a team navigating an abandoned lunar base.
Another sci-fi series comes from writers and producers Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One) and Nikola Todorovic, co-founders of VR production company Aether, Inc. Called The Enlightened Ones, it is set in an alternative reality where a means of achieving immortality has been discovered, but the government must now control the crisis of overpopulation.
“The entire Aether team is excited to begin development in collaboration with Jaunt on The Enlightened Ones,” said Sheridan. “It’s always refreshing to bring great stories into a new medium of storytelling. This is not just a story about good vs. evil. We wanted to truthfully explore what would happen if we discovered a technology that could prolong human life and make war and illness obsolete — would we allow everyone to use it knowing that the Earth would overpopulate?”
In addition, Jaunt is teaming with author Daniel H. Wilson (Robopocalypse) on multi-episode series Miss Gloria, which is set in the distant future as a robot hero searches for a young girl who has gone missing during an uprising.
Jaunt is also working on comedy series Bad Trip from writer and director Todd Strauss-Schulson (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas). The series transports the viewer into the experience of taking drugs in environments that are less than ideal.
“VR is the future. It’s a fascinating new form of storytelling that can create a potent-feeling state and a personal subjective experience,” said Strauss-Schulson. “You know what else can do that? Drugs. Drugs have the power to create hilarious, pride-swallowing humiliations. I’m pumped to dive into the VR world, where I can apply my visual ideas to this media, putting the viewer inside these hallucinatory roller-coaster rides.”
Jaunt is among a number of VR companies expected to have a large presence at Sundance’s New Frontier program. The company will be showing a number of VR projects from its lounge during the festival, including the premiere of Bashir’s Dream from RYOT.
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