Disney, 'Blade Runner' are taking Oculus to Hollywood

Mickey and the Replicants? Facebook's Oculus is bringing cuddly Disney characters and dystopian "Blade Runner" stories to its virtual-reality system.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
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Virtual-reality company Oculus is working with two of Hollywood's major studios to bring some of the most (and least) cuddly characters from the cinema screen to VR.

Thursday, Oculus announced a collaboration with Walt Disney Studios to create VR experiences with some of Disney's "most beloved characters," for release later this year.

Next year, an Oculus VR project with Warner Bros. will release an experience linked to "Blade Runner 2049," the movie sequel to Ridley Scott's classic science-fiction film. The VR element will be available in advance of the film's release, set for October 6, 2017.

The news came during a keynote address Thursday at the Oculus Connect 3 event, the company's third annual developers conference, in San Jose, California.

Virtual reality is an immersive technology that uses headsets to put a viewer in the middle of the action. The new format has drawn keen interest from the gaming community, where interactive entertainment is already familiar. But VR opens up potential for other industries, including medicine, education, travel, retail and film and television.

In addition, a new short film called "Asteroids" will further an emerging VR animated series about the interactions between some fuzzy white bunnies and aliens, created by "Madagascar" director Eric Darnell and VR studio Baobab. Oculus also said it would be releasing a VR music video from the band OK Go directed by Chris Milk, who has directed Kanye West music videos and helps lead the VR-content company Within.

Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014. The social-media company's big bet moved it into a leading position in the emerging format of VR, where other powerful tech companies like Samsung and Google also are racing to dominate.