The team set out to make the first star-driven, blockbuster VR movie with critically acclaimed director Robert Rodriguez (Alita: Battle Angel, Sin City). THE LIMIT is a first-person movie where you are in the role of a rogue agent with a mysterious past, and you enlist the help of enhanced super-assassin M-13 (Michelle Rodriguez) to retrieve your identity and strike against the deadly organization that created you. Also featuring a special appearance by Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), THE LIMIT puts you inside a high-octane 20-minute action movie like you've never seen.
The campaign goal was to support the launch through social media, press outreach and talent appearances to garner downloads for THE LIMIT paid app across major VR platforms. It was important to us to communicate this is as a lean-back cinematic experience – new to VR and different than a game or other interactive VR experiences. We also worked closely with Robert Rodriguez and the stars to showcase their excitement for THE LIMIT and the genre.
THE LIMIT is presented in a new VR movie format called "Super Surreal," developed in-house at STXsurreal, that is wider than half-dome and projected in a fully rendered virtual movie theater environment. It allows for a comfortable lean-back viewing experience while offering an ultra-wide field-of-view to keep the viewer immersed in the experience. The Super Surreal format was designed to address the limitations of 360 video, both for filmmakers and viewers, and it offers significantly better image quality.
A drumbeat of activity and excitement was created for the launch of THE LIMIT, which is available as a paid app in VR storefronts and the major app stores, to tell the story of this one-of-a-kind immersive experience. Because STXsurreal is part of the larger entertainment studio STX, we were able to leverage the studios reach to give early sneak peeks of the footage with Robert Rodriguez at MIP TV in Cannes – we were the first main stage panel to highlight a virtual reality project. Both Robert and star Michelle Rodriguez also participated in panels at New York Comic-Con, where we showed an exclusive clip in headsets to select press to highlight the Super Surreal format first-hand. Fast break activities were kicked-off with a media relations campaign to reach beyond entertainment and tech/VR outlets and reach a wider audience across numerous publications including Newsweek, The Next Web, Variety, Forbes, CNET, Cheddar, The Wrap and more. We utilized social to extend the reach of stories and garner interest from key entertainment sites including Fandango. Robert Rodriguez participated in Q&As and interviews to generate continued awareness and post stories on his social pages. A giveaway was arranged with Destructoid Flixist for readers to win a code to view THE LIMIT.
In addition to the earned media on press activations, we developed a highly-optimized media strategy to target virtual reality users that were likely to purchase content, a much more challenging prospect than a traditional awareness campaign against a specific demographic. Knowing we needed to target user behavior in addition to just interest, we tailored creative natively for Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and YouTube in addition to programmatic targeting via Amazon DSP. Site takeovers on two major VR sites, Road to VR and VR Scout, underscored that this was a first of its kind VR experience for users to lean back and enjoy.
In essence, we pulled off the scale of a feature film release on a micro-indie campaign budget using the same tactics in a highly efficient manner.
On November 20th STXsurreal launched THE LIMIT to critical acclaim, with The Next Web calling it "the first must-watch film of the VR era." In total, more than 80 stories ran surrounding the launch and the weeks post leading to 482+ million impressions, resulting in key entertainment sites, including Fandango and Destructoid Flixist, taking notice. The key goal was to drive downloads of THE LIMIT with a hyper efficient campaign. We succeeded as THE LIMIT shot to number one in the Oculus Store, the largest dedicated VR platform, and then remained the top paid entertainment choice for more than six weeks into the holiday season, demonstrating that the pay-for-app download model has promise for VR home adoption.