Samsung to open VR movie studio in New York: 'We love stories'

The company behind the Gear VR virtual-reality headset partners with the Sundance film festival to foster new immersive experiences.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Samsung wants to produce new immersive experiences for the Gear VR headset.

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Lights, camera, Samsung! The company behind the Gear VR virtual reality headset is opening a New York studio to produce new immersive experiences.

Samsung announced the news here at the Sundance film festival in Park City, Utah, where virtual reality is emerging as a prominent theme.

The Korean company isn't saying any more about the new VR production studio at this stage. Marc Mathieu, chief marketing officer of Samsung USA, said only that the studio would be located in an existing Samsung office already inhabited by a marketing team. As new VR experiences are produced in the studio, the marketing team will presumably be ideally placed to tell the world about them.

Samsung also announced a year-long partnership with the Sundance Institute, the organisation behind the film festival. The partnership is designed to nurture filmmaking and creative talent.

"At Samsung we love stories," Mathieu said as he addressed a small crowd at Samsung's pop-up Sundance showcase. "And we love to help people tell stories."

Festival-goers thronged Samsung's showcase during the day, with queues forming to try the Gear VR headset. Friday also saw the premiere of a new virtual-reality sketch from comedy website Funny or Die starring Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer of TV's "The League" and "Childrens Hospital". The comedians then enthused about VR at a boisterous panel discussing the making of the sketch, during which Huebel described VR as "the most fun way to blow people's minds."

If people are really going to embrace virtual reality, they need stuff to actually watch on their headsets. Last year's Sundance saw the Facebook-owned Oculus VR company announce an initiative to create more content, and this year Oculus has recruited actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt to help promote its wares.