Ridley Scott is, virtually, at it again.
The veteran director — whose "The Martian" was turned into an elaborate piece of virtual reality by Fox — will see his new movie "Alien: Covenant" also given the VR treatment.
The studio announced Tuesday that it is creating the science-fiction piece, enlisting visual-effects specialist David Karlak to direct and with Scott serve as executive producer. The "Alien: Covenant" experience is being made under the auspices of Fox Innovation Lab, the on-the-lot department devoted to virtual reality.
"The VR Experience for 'Alien: Covenant' is a dread-inducing journey into the depths of the Alien universe," said the Fox statement announcing the project. "Viewers will discover the true meaning of terror as they navigate through horrifying alien environments and a story where every decision could mean the difference between life and death."
A studio spokesman confirmed the piece will be available on all tethered platforms: the high-end Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStationVR and HTC Vive. (Those VR-dedicated venues differ from Samsung's Gear VR and other phone-based varietals.)
Starring Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterston, "Alien Covenant" marks the latest film in the "Alien" franchise (and serves as a sequel of sorts to 2012's "Prometheus"). A new trailer offers some clues to the May release, in which the Covenant spacecraft comes upon a dangerous world on a mission to a distant part of the galaxy.
"The Martian VR Experience" was a roughly 20-minute piece that blended light first-person interactivity with scenes related to the movie. Directed by Robert Stromberg, it marked both a major foray for studios into standalone VR as well as an attempt to build a business around that content; unlike many studio experiences, which function primarily as a free marketing tool for the movie, "Martian VR" was sold separately after the release. "Alien: Covenant" also will be available for purchase, the studio said.
With its vast (other)worlds and dedicated fan bases, Scott's recent work lends itself to VR. Fox is hoping "Alien: Covenant," which taps into the "Alien" series' fervent online following, will play into that digital interest.
Still, VR as a separate vein of content — particularly as a paid business — is a fallow and unproven area. It remains to be seen whether the close connection to a big movie brand becomes a selling point to consumers or creates a feeling of redundancy.