OUTSIDE a squat grey building in Santa Monica, the California sun melts the tar. Inside, in a dark room roughly the size of a small shipping container, two men are exploring the world by means of virtual reality (VR). They squash spiders in an abandoned temple, hit a home run at Yankee Stadium and float through a Blade Runner-esque landscape, all in the span of eight minutes. It feels much longer than that, and also shorter—time is hard to grasp in VR.
The creator of the experience is Walter Parkes, a former boss of DreamWorks Pictures, a film studio, who last year co-founded Dreamscape Immersive. The startup plans a chain of VR multiplex cinemas offering ten-minute interactive experiences for around $15 each. The first will open at a shopping mall near Beverly Hills; another 14 are planned for 2018.