Universal Pictures unwrapped its unique The Mummy Zero Gravity VR Experience at SXSW 2017. Fans anxious for a fully immersive peek behind the scenes of the summer blockbuster found Austin Convention Center’s Ballroom B converted into a cargo hold queue leading to an airplane tail resembling the C-130 from the film. Next up on the pre-show tour was a trek past a 300-pound mummy sarcophagus to make the creepy atmosphere complete.
Once inside the plane, 20 Positron Voyager pods built expressly for this experience composed the theater itself. Positron’s Voyager pods are custom engineered for a feel somewhat similar to a moving movie theater like Disneyland’s “Star Tours,” but with 3D audio and 360-degree motion control amplifying physical sensations synched to the headset’s visuals.
As for the VR experience itself, while the simulation didn’t quite achieve an effect of weightlessness (your backside is grounded to a seat the whole time after all), deconstruction of Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis’ zero gravity stunt was nonetheless intriguing in its own right. Virtual reality dropped viewers directly between Cruise and the camera as we watched crewmembers pump themselves up, prepare, and pull off the scene over the course of 60+ setups.
At four miles above sea level, Cruise and company careened around the “crashing” aircraft while their Novespace Airbus went into freefall during 20-second windows. Interview pieces interspersed with BTS footage highlighted Tom Cruise’s insistence on performing practical stunts, citing his goal of ensuring maximum excitement for the audience. Something that certainly came across in the VR experience is Cruise’s commitment, and the enthusiasm of everyone involved to deliver the most cinematically spectacular stunt possible.
While The Mummy Zero Gravity VR Experience probably isn’t touring your way anytime soon, The Mummy will be in theaters June 9th, 2017.
About The Mummy: Thought safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.
Photos by Randy Smith/SXSW Staff Photographer.