September 1, 2020
To promote new original series “Lovecraft Country,” HBO Sept. 1 announced it is launching a series of virtual reality (VR) companion events, dubbed “Lovecraft Country: Sanctum.” The promotions transporting fans into a virtual world inspired by the show. The series, which launched Aug. 16, airs Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and is available to stream on HBO Max.
“Lovecraft Country” is a horror drama television series set in 1950s Jim Crow America developed by Misha Green based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Matt Ruff. It stars Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors, among others, and is executive produced by J.J Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, “Westworld”) and Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us).
The VR events, which begin Sept. 3, will enable selected users to experience three events consisting of immersive theater, escape rooms, art installations, puzzles and a live concert, via the Oculus Quest headset, all inspired by the series. The events will be simultaneously run on the social platform VRChat, which allows participants to talk and interact with each other in real time within the environment, and streamed via YouTube Live.
“We were very inspired by the deeply layered and dynamic world Misha Green has brought to life in [the series] and wanted to create a digital experience for fans that is just as innovative,” Dana Flax, VP of program marketing at HBO, said in a statement.
Flax said much of the TV show is rooted in the idea of travel as a catalyst for self-discovery. And the VR experience provides a way for fans of the show to come together virtually and safely in a unique new place and experience incredible performances that further explore themes and ideas from the show.
“These virtual events also give us the special opportunity of spotlighting the work of black artists in celebration of this very important series,” Flax said.
VR participants will experience voiceover performances by series’ Majors, Courtney B. Vance and Michael Kenneth Williams; afrofuturist art installations by David Alabo, Devan Shimoyama and Adeyemi Adegbesan; a theatrical performance inspired by the words of James Baldwin, adapted by series writer Shannon Houston, and performed by Jurnee Smollett; and an exclusive VR concert given by a soon to be announced artist.
Sanctum was developed in partnership with HBO by creative production partner and experience studio The Mill, whose team of artists, coders and strategists developed the experience during global lockdown, in close collaboration with HBO’s marketing team.
“We created Sanctum as a space to expand the possibilities of what the future of theatre, games, art installations, concerts, and live events can be, said Rama Allen, executive creative director at The Mill and lead creative on the Sanctum experience.
Allen said the promotion seeks to create a space in partnership with black artists and voices that centers on the black experience.
“We chose social VR because it is the most transportive medium to lift us from the isolation of quarantine, to coexist in a rarefied location,” he said. “This technology can erase geography to bring us together.”