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“Immersive” Entertainment Is All The Rage

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“Immersive” Entertainment Is All The Rage

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Cinema and museum attendance is low, but people are flocking to “immersive” shows that allow them to (virtually) walk through a Van Gogh painting, Tutankhamun’s tomb or a surreal fantasy world.

Why it matters: People want to ditch their couches and phone screens in favor of transcendent experiences that allow them to move and communicate outside of their movie theater chairs or VR headsets.

The unexpected popularity of the half-dozen competing immersive Van Gogh exhibitions in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped open the floodgates for similar exhibits that make world-class art and artifacts more accessible. and attractive.

  • Advancements in projection mapping allow manufacturers to create dazzling shows.
  • “You walk in and you’re transported to another world,” said Gilles Paquin, CEO of Paquin Entertainment Group, which is behind the show Beyond King Tut, which just premiered in several cities across the United States. States and Canada. “It puts you in a zen place, a quiet place.”

What’s happening: Production companies specializing in concerts and stage shows are now racing to open immersive entertainment divisions, in part because the original Immersive Van Gogh made so much money.

  • Lighthouse Immersive, the company behind Immersive Van Gogh, “reported ticket sales of over 5 million between February 2021 and May 2022, indicating that one in 90 Americans purchased a ticket,” according to Artnet News.
  • According to MarketWatch, Van Gogh shows at the lighthouse brought in $250 million, excluding $30 million from the gift shops.

Now you can also wander through the works of Monet and Klimt, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera .

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  • Other immersive experiences, some inspired by the abstract madness of Meow Wolf, include Lumina’s outdoor nighttime rides and indoor shows like Inter_, a Fantasia-like show that just opened in beta in New York City.
  • Inter_ features an interactive sound bath and tunnels of light, plus bubbles that release as guests move around.
  • “Hopefully over time the bubbles will fill with mist and flavor,” said program co-founder Ryan Nelson. “It will be a very pleasant olfactory experience.”
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This trend has also affected the airports and transit stations: Moment Factory designed a new installation at the International Airport Newark Liberty, which also provided a “baño de tinte” at the Shinjuku station in Tokyo and multimedia entertainment at the International Airport of Angels.

  • Some shows, like SuperReal, which took place last summer in the famous Cunard Building in Lower Manhattan, take advantage of the architectural uniqueness of their venue.

What they’re saying: When the 2019 Van Gogh exhibition opened in Paris, “I couldn’t understand how you could put together such a successful immersive exhibition in a market with all the great museums in the world, then I realized it would be like you like him, it was a new art form,” Paquin said.

  • Immersive shows transform audiences from passive participants to active participants, explained Moment Factory general manager Jamie Reilly.
  • “They blur the lines between the real and the surreal, the digital and the physical,” he told Axios.

Yes, but: Critics and viewers have called some shows unimpressive, bad, and expensive.

  • “Van Gogh shows how to make turn-of-the-century French painting as entertaining a pastime as a child’s mobile,” smiles the New York Times critic.
  • The Daily Beast asked about Monet’s garden: “Does it really do justice to Monet’s miracle?”

Bottom Line: Shows that blend art, music, and good humor fit well with today’s health, mindfulness, and mental health zeitgeist.

  • “We really encourage people to put their problems behind them,” says Nelson of Inter_, who is operated by Jobi.
  • “We want to create an experience that gives people a reason to get out of the house and talk to each other.”
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