Warner Bros. Digital Chief Predicts ‘Tens of Millions’ of Virtual-Reality Devices

Los Angeles — Warner Bros. digital chief Thomas Gewecke predicts that virtual-reality and so-called augmented-reality devices will enter the entertainment mainstream sooner rather than later.

“It certainly by no means is unrealistic to talk about there being tens of millions of units of AR and VR hardware in the marketplace over the next few years,” Gewecke, chief digital officer and executive VP of Warner Bros. said Thursday at the Digital Entertainment World conference. “That’s a significant market footprint of real consumers all around the world who have the ability to experience new kinds of content.”

Gewecke, interviewed by Magid Advisors president Mike Vorhaus, touted Warner Bros. partnerships with companies such as Otoy, with which it is developing a virtual-reality Batcave, to create content for virtual- and augmented-reality devices. “It creates an opportunity for an entirely new grammar of filmmaking, of storytelling,” he said. He compared the phenomenon to the rise of short-form video on platforms such as YouTube. “I think you’ve seen the entire spectrum of filmmakers and creators coming to the market with short-form content, new and established.”

Asked about Warner Bros.’ investment last year in short-form digital company Machinima, Gewecke said that Warner Bros. has seen a “huge explosion” in the short-form video marketplace in recent years.

“For us, [Machinima] is a phenomenal way to achieve a whole variety of objectives,” he said, calling it “a great way to reach the audiences” that are on YouTube and other platforms. “It’s a great way for us to reach out to new talent.”