Deepwater Horizon hits Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD on January 10, but I have a bonus post to throw your way, before digging into a full review of the Blu-ray. The Peter Berg-directed film, featuring Mark Walhberg and Kurt Russell, tells the story of the men involved in the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig disaster that occurred in April, 2010. The film was a thrilling watch and to allow viewers a closer and unique look at how this film came to be, Lionsgate has partnered with SubVRsive to provide a 360° virtual reality commentary with Berg and editor Colby Parker Jr. I was able to try this experience, so continue on to find out more about how this whole thing works and what to expect.
Given the increased presence of VR devices and implementation as of late, Lionsgate has decided to jump into the game for their home releases. It’s a novel idea and it has led to an interesting way to view a commentary track, ideally fitting in with concepts such as WB’s “Maximum Movie Mode” for releases such as Watchmen and the various Harry Potter films. For Deepwater Horizon, the idea was to create a VR commentary track. This means using a Google Cardboard VR viewer and combining that with the Deepwater Horizon VR app (available on iOS & Android for free) to get into the experience.
Taking a hands-on approach, I performed the tasks required (downloading the app, placing my iPhone into the viewer, etc.) and watched and listened to this commentary. As opposed to viewing the entire film in this manner, which would have been an uncomfortable experience, the app presents three scenes from the film. There’s the introductory sequence to the rig, the entire blow out sequence and the climatic escape sequence. Each of these three scenes features fun and informative commentary from Berg and Parker, who are clearly friends and enjoy poking fun at each other.
I should note that after first downloading the app, only the first scene is unlocked, but the other two can be unlocked by using audio recognition from the film upon purchase or by simply tapping a certain spot on the screen. It’s a pretty simple process and amounts to about a half hour of extra content to go with the fairly extensive extra features provided on the Blu-ray itself.
There will be more to say about the Blu-ray’s extras in the eventual review, but as far as this immersive experience goes, it’s a novel approach that has some flaws. On the plus side, it is neat to see an innovative idea such as this; however, it’s a shame that a full commentary track is not also available on the Blu-ray. The other problem is how uncomfortable the cardboard viewer is. It doesn’t help that the app is not the easiest when it comes to properly orienting for the user, so you’d have to be sure to add some extra padding or just hold the viewer the whole time, rather than using the Velcro head-strap.
All of that in mind, while this is not an experience I need to dive into again for this film specifically (although I’ll show my girlfriend what it’s like), it’s a cool concept that I can only hope gets fleshed out a bit more in the future. VR fans may be more appreciative of this idea and it was great to hear Berg be so nonchalant about the whole thing. Below is a full press release concerning the VR experience.
Deepwater Horizon Arrives on Blu-ray January 10, 2017
360° VIRTUAL REALITY COMMENTARY BY ACCLAIMED DIRECTOR PETER BERG IN “DEEPWATER HORIZON VR” NOW AVAILABLE ON iOS & ANDROID PLATFORMS
Deepwater Horizon Available on Digital HD Now
and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-rayTM Combo Pack and DVD January 10th
SANTA MONICA, CA and VANCOUVER, BC (December 20, 2016) – To celebrate the Digital HD release of Deepwater Horizon Lionsgate is taking film commentary to the next level with the new Deepwater Horizon VR app, now available on iOS and Android mobile platforms. Using the new immersive Deepwater Horizon VR, fans will experience, for the first time ever, the thrill of being in the same room with director Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Patriots Day) as he dives into the critically acclaimed film Deepwater Horizon with exclusive commentary alongside editor Colby Parker Jr (Lone Survivor, Patriots Day). Created by SubVRsive in partnership with Lionsgate, viewers be surrounded by renderings and sketches of the various special effects used in the film, as Berg and Parker Jr. reference them.
“Lionsgate was one of the first media companies to embrace consumer applications for VR and we are dedicated to evolving our offerings to enhance the fan involvement in our content,” said Jim Packer, Lionsgate President of Worldwide TV & Digital Distribution. “With our VR app, fans fully immerse themselves in the world of Deepwater Horizon as seen through the eyes of our filmmakers, and it is a unique experience that adds a new dimension to home viewing.”
The mobile Deepwater Horizon VR experience includes three film scenes with commentary – only available via the app – and is free to download through the Apple App Store or Google Play. The first scene is fully accessible when the app is downloaded and the additional scenes are unlocked using audio recognition while viewing Deepwater Horizon.
The app can be used on an iPhone or Android smartphone with a compatible virtual reality viewing device such as Google Cardboard, which should be used while seated. Alternately, users without a mobile VR viewer can enjoy the experience in 360 video mode. All instructions included with the compatible VR viewing device should be followed before use and such use should not continue if any discomfort or health reactions are experienced.
Deepwater Horizon Synopsis:
Mark Wahlberg leads an all-star cast in this unforgettably powerful film inspired by a thrilling story of real-life heroes. For the one hundred and twenty-six people aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig, April 20, 2010, began like any normal day. Before day’s end, the world would bear witness to one of the greatest man-made disasters in U.S. history. Deepwater Horizon reveals the brave acts of the men and women who rose to the challenge—and risked everything to lead others to safety.
SubVRsive is an Emmy-nominated Virtual Reality company based in Austin, TX focused on creating impactful VR and AR experiences for brands and agencies. Partnering with renowned directors, producers, content creators, and developers at the forefront of the medium, SubVRsive has created captivating 360 Video and ImmersiveVR experiences for some of the world’s leading brands.
Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) is a vertically integrated next generation global content leader with a diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, premium pay television networks, home entertainment, global distribution and sales, interactive ventures and games and location-based entertainment.
With the acquisition of Starz, Lionsgate adds to its portfolio of businesses the flagship STARZ premium pay network serving nearly 25 million subscribers and the STARZ ENCORE platform with over 31 million subscribers. The combined company will operate five over-the-top (OTT) streaming services and the Starz app delivering content directly to consumers.
The Company’s feature film business spans eight labels and includes the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise, the Now You See Me and John Wick series, the Golden Globe-nominated La La Land, Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water (in partnership with CBS Films), Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween, Roadside Attractions’ critically-acclaimed Manchester by the Sea, Codeblack Films’ concert film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain and Pantelion Films’ Instructions Not Included, the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the U.S.
One of the largest independent television businesses in the world, Lionsgate’s slate of premium quality series encompasses nearly 90 shows on more than 40 different networks. These include the ground-breaking Orange is the New Black, the fan favorite Nashville, the syndication success The Wendy Williams Show, the acclaimed drama The Royals, the acclaimed Casual, the breakout success Greenleaf and hit Starz series including Outlander, Black Sails, Survivor’s Remorse and Power, the second highest-rated premium pay television series of 2016.
Lionsgate’s home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rates. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of more than 16,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as a foundation for the growth of the Company’s core businesses. The Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment and Starz brands are synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world. www.lionsgate.com