This study compares watching a film in a traditional theater setting to watching the same film in a virtual theater using a virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD). The study seeks to determine whether watching a film in a virtual theater is a comfortable experience that viewers can tolerate; and whether watching in VR produces similar feelings of identification, transportation, and enjoyment for the films as watching in a traditional theater. Using the Oculus Rift DK2 HMD and the Riftmax virtual theater software, participants watched either Signs or Ferris Bueller's Day Off in a virtual theater. Other participants watched the same films in a traditional theater setting, and independent comparisons were made. Results indicate that over 90% of the VR participants were able to watch the entire movie in the virtual theater, and feelings of identification, transportation, and enjoyment were quite similar between conditions. Differences found were attributable to the films' content, with an interaction between VR and theater conditions. Implications and future research are discussed.
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