Toronto's first virtual reality theatre set to open this summer

A new kind of movie theatre — one that seats just 20 people and features virtual reality films — is set to open in Toronto next month.

Movie buffs will get a 'really exciting experience' for just $20, founder says

Vivid VR, described by its founders as the first virtual reality cinema in North America, opens on Dundas Street West on July 16.

A new kind of movie theatre — one that seats just 20 people and features virtual reality films — is set to open in Toronto next month.

Gary Tam, one of the founders of Vivid VR, said for $20 each, movie buffs will experience three 10-15 minute shorts in virtual reality, all of which have had screenings at major film festivals like Sundance and Tribeca.

"This is the next level of storytelling as we know it," said Tam. "If you look at all the technology we've seen, this is the next level of how we consume stories."

Patrons will need to book online and show up at Tam's pop-up storefront theatre at Dundas Street and Ossington Avenue 10 minutes before showtime for an orientation session. 

They'll be seated in theatre-like seats that swivel, and instead of facing a screen, they'll strap on heavy-duty goggles with headphones. "It's a three-sixty experience," Tam says.

North America's first VR theatre

Vivid VR will be the first virtual reality theatre in North America and eventually the goal is to offer full-length feature films in virtual reality, Tam told CBC News.

The 45-minute show begins with a tutorial on how to best experience the films. The tutorials are necessary, Tam said, because "once you're inside the experience, it's uncomfortable to ask for help."

Tam and his two partners, who all grew up in the GTA or lived here for a time, "thought the idea of virtual reality was a really exciting idea and we wanted to bring it to a Canadian audience," Tam said.

The first shows are scheduled for July 16.