Virtual reality company Oculus has announced the closure of Oculus Story Studio, the film studio founded by former Pixar employees to create immersive movies using the VR technology. The move comes as a part of Oculus’ shift in focus away from producing content internally in favor of support external content creation.
Oculus Story Studio released three films: Lost, Henry, and Dear Angelica. Henry is narrated by Elijah Wood and took home an Emmy award for Outstanding Original Interactive Programming. Dear Angelica stars Geena Davis and Mae Whitman and followed in the footsteps of Story Studio’s 2015 film, Lost, by debuting this past January at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
According to a blog post by Oculus VP of content Jason Rubin, the company is still committed to helping fund VR film projects (including a pledged $50 million investment in future non-gaming VR projects), but all ongoing projects at Oculus Story Studio have been canceled. The three films that Oculus Story Studio did release will not be delisted from the store.
The closure comes following a string of news stories that signal a transitional period for Oculus. From the departure of co-founder Palmer Luckey and the stepping down of former CEO Brendan Iribe, to a major loss in a lawsuit with ZeniMax, it’s safe to assume that things have not gone as planned for the virtual reality company owned by Facebook.
It’s a shame when any studio closes, let alone one that has produced well-liked products. Of Oculus Story Studio’s films, I’ve only seen Henry, which was cute, charming, and entertaining, while demonstrating VR’s capabilities for bringing a new twist to the traditional film-watching experience. We hope that those affected by the closure are able to find other roles within Oculus or equivalent jobs elsewhere.