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Madagascar Director to release Free VR Movie Voiced by Oprah Winfrey and John Legend

Eric Darnell, the director and co-writer of the Madagascar movies, has announced that he will be giving away his new virtual reality movie for free rather than selling it. Crow: The Legend was warmly received at this year’s Venice Film Festival which wrapped up earlier this month. The VR movie lets viewers immerse themselves in the journey of a mythical bird that must bring warmth to Earth by first traveling to the sun.

Key Points
  • Eric Darnell is the director and co-writer of the Madagascar movies.
  • He will be giving away his new virtual reality movie for free.
  • The movie’s plot of a bird who must reach the sun to bring warmth to earth.
  • Based on an Native American legend.
  • Showcased at Venice International Film Festival.

The studio behind the movie, Darnell’s Baobab Studios, has decided to release the movie at no cost in order to generate interest in the VR medium. Crow: The Legend features a star-studded voice cast including Oprah Winfrey, John Legend and Constance Wu (star of Crazy Rich Asians). Baobab Studios are betting that their release will help VR make a bigger impact in the movie industry.

In a recent Reuters interview, Darnell explained that he does not expect the project to be a significant influence for at least the next six months. He cited many prerequisites for the technology to become mainstream, including improved content and technology; “headsets have to get cheaper,” said Darnell.

When I put on that headset, it reminded me of what I felt like back then.

Darnell made the transition from regular animation to VR after trying a VR headset for the first time. With a career dating back to the early 1980s, Darnell noted, “When I put on that headset, it reminded me of what I felt like back then.”

Darnell’s VR movie Crow: The Legend puts the viewer inside the story by incorporating the use of hand-controllers. Viewers can send waves of virtual energy to propel the bird through the air by motioning with their hands. The movie’s plot of a bird who must reach the sun to bring warmth to earth is based on a Native American legend.

The Venice Film Festival ran from August 29 to September 8, 2018 in Venice, Italy.