Director Zhang Yimou Invests in VR Theme Park

Virtual reality (VR) in China continues to grow in popularity — and now has attracted the attention of one of the country’s biggest directors.

Director Zhang Yimou (HeroThe Great Wall) has co-founded a virtual reality start-up, the first project of which will be a VR amusement park in the southern Chinese city of Nanchang, Bloomberg reported.

Although no dollar figure was attached to the company’s value or Zhang’s investment, the director’s interest and presence in virtual reality are sure to boost the industry’s otherwise topsy-turvy development. However, Zhang and other major players including China Central Television (CCTV) are now getting involved.

SoReal currently occupies the basement of a Beijing shopping mall with a VR arcade, that includes shooting games and other VR-based activities. Beijing has lagged behind Shanghai in rolling out VR arcades to consumers and stoking demand for such experiences, including games and eventually, movies.

“As a movie director—someone who is good at creating visual effects—this technology is significant,” Zhang told Bloomberg. “It’s not flat. You can see color in 360 degrees. You can even interact with it. That’s unique!”

Unlike traditional ride-based amusement parks, a VR amusement park gives the user opportunities to move through and interact with different environments. Although the cost of developing such VR content is still relatively high, cost savings can be reaped by operators by reducing or eliminating the need for ride maintenance and operations staff.  SoReal hopes to open their first park in Nanchang, in Jiangxi province, next year.